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Wednesday September 28th, 2016 1:11AM

Week 8: 7-AAA shake-up, and OT win highlight action-packed night

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
  Contact Editor
White County pulled off its biggest victory of the Bill Ballard era on Friday, downing No. 4 North Hall 21-7 to ensure that it is not just a two-team race for Region 7-AAA.

And that wasn't even the most exciting finish on the night, as week 8 of high school football also brought us another flourish from Chestatee.

This time the War Eagles used a last-gasp blocked punt return to force overtime and an eventual 20-17 defeat of Lanier on the road. The victory kept the War Eagles tied with No. 4 Monroe Area for the lead in Region 8-AAAA and showed that Chestatee has developed a knack for winning close contests.

Meanwhile, the race for Region 8-AAAAA does now look very much a two-team race, as Gainesville raced past Clarke Central 56-28 in Athens and Flowery Branch stonewalled Heritage 33-0 in Conyers.

The Red Elephants and Falcons are the only two teams undefeated in 8-AAAAA play, and while Flowery Branch must still navigate a home contest with the Gladiators next week, a win there would ensure a region championship match-up between the two intra-county rivals when they meet up on Nov. 8 in Gainesville.

The race for the Region 8-AA crown also became clear on Friday, as Washington-Wilkes powered past Rabun County 52-7 to give the fourth-ranked Tigers a big lead over the rest of the league. Jefferson also solidified its hold on second place in 8-AA, hammering Oglethorpe County 41-0. Meanwhile, Union County dominated Greene County 42-0 to set up a key showdown with rival Rabun County next week in Blairsville, the winner taking a big step toward the state playoffs.

Commerce also continued to make its case for a state playoff in Class A, ripping off four unanswered touchdowns in a 28-7 win over Athens Academy.

Speaking of the postseason, the race for 7-AAA's top four spots got a lot more intriguing on Friday thanks to White County's win over the Trojans. Buford is now alone in first place after a 42-10 defeat of Dawson County that saw the Wolves lead 14-3 at the half.

Thanks to its bounce back, 27-7 win over East Hall on Friday, West Hall is now tied with White County and North Hall with 3-1 records in 7-AAA -- though the Warriors own the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Trojans now. North Hall and West Hall will face off next Friday in The Brickyard. The Spartans impressed against the Vikings, using a dominating line of scrimmage to hold the ball for 32 minutes, 12 seconds -- compared with East Hall's 15:48.

The results certainly set up for a must-see week 9 -- one that will have to go some way to live up to week 8.

Be sure to check our sports, high school sports and Friday Game Night pages for in-depth game stories and video highlights.

AREA FOOTBALL FINALS FOR OCT. 18

Buford 42, Dawson County 10

Cedar Shoals 35, Apalachee 6

Chestatee 20, Lanier 17, OT

Commerce 28, Athens Academy 7

Druid Hills 13, Johnson 9

Eastside 28, Lumpkin County 12

Fannin County 6, Banks County 0

Flowery Branch 33, Heritage-Conyers 0

Gainesville 56, Clarke Central 28

Hart County 54, Jackson County 14

Jefferson 41, Oglethorpe County 0

Loganville 18, Winder-Barrow 0

Morgan County 38, East Jackson 19

Mill Creek 43, Duluth 3

North Gwinnett 41, Habersham Central 0

Riverside Military Academy 56, Social Circle 14

St. Francis 14, Lakeview Academy 7

Stephens County 35, Madison County 13

Towns County 48, North Cobb Christian 10

Union County 42, Greene County 0

Washington-Wilkes 52, Rabun County 7

West Hall 27, East Hall 7

White County 21, North Hall 7

West Forsyth 28, North Forsyth 7
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