WATKINSVILLE — Commerce could not build on a quick start on Friday as the Tigers watched Athens Academy pull out a 21-14 victory in the Region 8-A showdown in Watkinsville.
The Tigers (8-2) exploded for a 7-0 lead on Da'Juan Wood's 77-yard touchdown run in the first quarter -- only to watch the Spartans (10-0) storm back with 21 straight points before Sam Roach's touchdown plunge pulled Commerce to within 21-14 midway through the fourth quarter.
The visitors could not find the tying score, however, and, despite rushing for 302 yards, the Tigers saw a title shot slip through their hands.
Wood rushed for 118 yards on nine carries, while quarterback Nate Ray added 93 yards on 17 carries and Roach put up 66 on 14 carries.
Athens Academy's Len'Neth Whitehead proved the Spartans' offensive spark, rushing for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Palmer Bush also connected with Barrett McLanahan for a 6-yard touchdown strike to make it 21-7 in the third quarter after the two teams battled to a 7-7 first half stalemate.
Commerce awaits the final Class A playoff seedings with the release of the power ratings.