The first round of the state playoffs provided some magic and some heartbreaks for northeast Georgia high school football programs.
(NOTE: For a complete look at area scores and second round playoff schedule scroll down. Also visit our Friday Game Night page for in-depth stories and video highlights.)
Winder-Barrow and East Hall ended decades-long postseason droughts, as the Bulldoggs and Vikings each claimed their first state wins since 1993, while Jefferson fended off White County in an all-northeast Georgia showdown, and North Gwinnett rolled over North Forsyth, 55-7. Flowery Branch also pulled off a thrilling goal-line stand to deny Kell and move on in Class AAAAA.
Winder-Barrow sprinted to a 27-0 first half lead en route to a 36-7 win over Chattahoochee in the Class AAAAAA first round. The No. 2 seed Bulldoggs will travel to take on top-seeded Harrison in the next round. WInder proved the only area team from AAAAAA to prevail, as Gainesville lost a turnover-marred 40-24 decision at Alpharetta and Lanier succumbed in a 48-14 loss at Centennial.
East Hall also provided one of the shocks of the night in Class AAA -- though perhaps not so surprising for those who have watched the Vikings this season. Fourth-seeded East Hall's top-rated offense lit up Region 8-AAA champ Morgan County 50-36 in Madison. East Hall travels to No. 3 seed Westminster in Atlanta next week. Elsewhere in AAA, No. 2 seed Dawson County pulled away from Hart County for a 49-14 victory, and fourth-seeded Jackson County fell 49-0 at 7-AAA champ Greater Atlanta Christian. The only game in which 8-AAA got the better of 7-AAA was a 42-7 win for Monroe Area over North Hall in Monroe.
In Class AAAAA, the Falcons earned their first playoff win since 2011 -- and earned it in a 21-14 defeat of Kell at Flowery Branch. The second-seeded Falcons travel to face Carver (Atlanta) in the second round. Region 8-AAAAA champ Buford also pulled away from Paulding County 54-23.
There is only one Class AAAA team from northeast Georgia left standing after West Hall fought hard but ultimately fell at St. Pius 44-31. Region 8-AAAA runner-up Jefferson will tackle Ridgeland on the road next week in a top 10 showdown after keeping White County at arm's length in a 29-13 victory in Jefferson.
Region 8-AA champ Rabun County claimed its fourth straight first round state win, exploding in the second half for a 49-6 defeat of Chattooga. Banks County saw its season end at the hands of Pepperell, 57-0.
And in Class A, Towns County's magical season, which included its first ever state playoff berth, ended in a 41-14 loss after a long road trip to Pelham. Commerce had a bye this week and will play host to Charlton County next week.
Mill Creek also set up a rematch with Archer courtesy a 29-14 victory over West Forsyth.
FRIDAY'S FIRST ROUND STATE PLAYOFF SCORES, NOV. 10
(Scores listed by Classification, largest to smallest)
North Gwinnett 55, North Forsyth 7
Mill Creek 29, West Forsyth 14
Winder-Barrow 36, Chattahoochee 7
Centennial 48, Lanier 14
Alpharetta 40, Gainesville 24
Buford 54, Paulding County 23
Flowery Branch 21, Kell 14
Jefferson 29, White County 13
St. Pius 44, West Hall 31
Dawson County 49, Hart County 14
Monroe Area 42, North Hall 7
East Hall 50, Morgan County 36
GAC 49, Jackson County 0
Rabun County 49, Chattooga 6
Pepperell 57, Banks County 0
Class A Public
Pelham 41, Towns County 14
SECOND STATE PLAYOFF SCHEDULE, NOV. 17
(Games listed by Classification, largest to smallest)
Grayson at North Gwinnett
Mill Creek at Archer
Winder-Barrow at Harrison
Miller Grove vs. Maynard Jackson winner (play Saturday) at Buford
Flowery Branch at Carver (Atlanta)
Jefferson at Ridgeland
Dawson County at Cedar Grove
East Hall at Westminster
BEST Academy vs. Temple winner (play Saturday) at Rabun County
Class A Public
Charlton County at Commerce