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Thursday May 26th, 2016 2:27PM

Week 11: Drama drives final week, as area teams clinch titles, playoffs

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
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You want gut-check performances, explosive plays, last-minute drama and championships? Then week 11 of the high school football season was for you.

Three area teams -- Jackson County, North Forsyth and West Hall -- won in thrilling finishes to clinch postseason berths.

Not to be outdone, Gainesville held off Flowery Branch 55-45 in a shootout that clinched the Region 8-AAAAA crown and could so easily have broken scoreboards and driven statisticians crazy.

In Region 7-AAA, Buford rolled past North Hall 42-14 to nab another region crown. Meanwhile North Gwinnett took care of business, 44-22 over Peachtree Ridge -- only to watch the coin fall the wrong way, as the Bulldogs lost a coin toss for the 7-AAAAAA championship and finished third in the region.

Chestatee also bounced back emphatically from last week's gut-wrenching loss at Monroe Area to blank Madison County 42-0, while Commerce handled Pinecrest 24-14, and White County ran away from Banks County 38-13.

Yet perhaps no finale could outdo Lumpkin County's 31-28 win at Stephens County -- Lumpkin's first ever win over Stephens -- as the Indians notched their second win of the season via a 3-yard touchdown pass from Daniel McCrary found Johnathan Gilreath with 29 seconds remaining.

It was just one part of a huge night of drama.

Jackson County's Luis Sanchez showed his penchant for heroics, as the sophomore placekicker drilled a 27-yard field goal as time expired to edge Morgan County 38-35 and send the Panthers back to state for the second straight year.

In Region 6-AAAAAA, North Forsyth held arch-rival South Forsyth 17-12 to make sure it got back to state for the first time since 2010.

And, in Region 7-AAA, West Hall broke an 11-year playoff drought courtesy a hardfought 10-7 win at Dawson County.

East Hall and Riverside Military also finished their seasons on a high, winning over Fannin County and Greene County, respectively, while Towns County knocked off Hebron Christian 34-19. Winder also knocked off cross-town rival Apalachee 27-20 to get their first win over the Wildcats since 2007.

Jefferson and Union County still have more games to play, but the Dragons dominated the Panthers 49-3 on Friday in Blairsville, while fellow 8-AA competitor Rabun County shut down Oglethorpe County 57-0. The results ensured Jefferson finished as the No. 2 seed in 8-AA, Rabun No. 3, Union No. 4.

Look below for a list of area scores and first round state playoff match-ups, and check our Friday Game Night and Sports pages for in-depth game stories.


AREA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FINALS, NOV. 8

Buford 42, North Hall 14

Chestatee 42, Madison County 0

Collins Hill 45, Mill Creek 34

Commerce 24, Pinecrest 14

East Hall 55, Fannin County 20

Gainesville 55, Flowery Branch 45

Jackson County 38, Morgan County 35

Jefferson 49, Union County 3

Lafayette 35, Johnson 34

Lumpkin County 31, Stephens County 28

North Forsyth 17, South Forsyth 12

North Gwinnett 44, Peachtree Ridge 22

Oconee County 20, East Jackson 17

Rabun County 57, Oglethorpe County 0

Riverside Military Academy 30, Greene County 26

Towns County 34, Hebron Christian Academy 19

West Hall 10, Dawson County 7

White County 38, Banks County 13

Winder-Barrow 27, Apalachee 20


AREA TEAMS STATE PLAYOFF MATCH-UPS:
First round contests take place Nov. 15
Teams listed by region, largest to smallest

Class AAAAAA
North Forsyth (No. 4 seed, 6-AAAAAA) at Archer (No. 1, Region 8-AAAAAA)
North Gwinnett (No. 3, 7-AAAAAA) at Milton (No. 2, 5-AAAAAA)

Class AAAAA
Gainesville (No. 1, 8-AAAAA) vs. M.L. King (No. 4, 6-AAAAA)
Flowery Branch (No. 2, 8-AAAAA) vs. Stephenson (No. 3, 6-AAAAA)

Class AAAA
Chestatee (No. 2, 8-AAAA) vs. Grady (No. 3, 6-AAAA)
Stephens County (No. 4, 8-AAAA) at Marist (No. 1, 6-AAAA)

Class AAA
Buford (No. 1, 7-AAA) vs. Sonoraville (No. 4, 5-AAA)
White County (No. 2, 7-AAA) vs. Adairsville (No. 3, 5-AAA)
North Hall (No. 3, 7-AAA) at Ringgold (No. 2, 5-AAA)
West Hall (No. 4, 7-AAA) at Cartersville (No. 1, 5-AAA)
Jackson County (No. 4, 8-AAA) at Blessed Trinity (No. 1, 6-AAA)

Class AA
Jefferson (No. 2, 8-AA) vs. Westminster (No. 3, 6-AA)
Rabun County (No. 3, 8-AA) at Greater Atlanta Christian (No. 2, 6-AA)
Union County (No. 4, 8-AA) at Lovett (No. 1, 6-AA)

Class A
Commerce -- awaits GHSA Class A power rating to find out seeding
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