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Sunday September 20th, 2020 6:29AM

Playoffs 2nd round caps: Seven area teams look to continue playoff push

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

Seven northeast Georgia area teams are still alive in the Georgia High School Association playoffs as the playoffs enter the second round on Friday night.

Only Gainesville in Class 6A and Flowery Branch in Class 4A were not able to move on, with the Falcons pushing No. 1 Cartersville to the final play in a gut-wrenching 14-6 loss on the road.

Buford in Class 5A, Jefferson, North Hall, and Dawson County advanced in Class 3A, Rabun County and Union County in Class 2A, and Commerce in Class A Public will look for Elite 8 berths. Five teams -- Buford, North Hall, Dawson County, Union County, Commerce -- will have to pull off road victories. Jefferson and Rabun County will try to advance at home.

For a look at all of the weekend's contests involving area teams, simply scroll down. And be sure to check back with AccessWDUN's Friday Game Night throughout Friday and Saturday night for score updates and game stories and video highlights. You can also check for scores and highlights on our Twitter feed: @FridayGameNight

GHSA FOOTBALL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE FOR Nov. 22
(Games listed by highest classification and in alphabetical order of visiting team)
CLASS 5A
There will be a new champion as defending champ Bainbridge fell in the first round. ... Regions 7 and 8 dominated in the opening round. Region 7 swept out Region 5 while Region 8 pushed three teams into the second round. Regions 1, 2, 3, and 4 all split... Seven region champs advanced, with Southwest DeKalb the only champ to fall in the first round. ... There will be some great matchups in the second round and beyond. Eight of the top 10 offenses and 8 of the top 10 defenses advanced. ... One of the most interesting 2nd round matchups has the top two defenses in Riverwood and Dutchtown seeing which one can hold down a pair of offenses in the middle of the pack in Class 5A. The other will be Rome and defending state runner-up Warner Robins meeting in the 2nd round with both teams sporting top 10 offenses and defenses. It is also a rematch of last year’s semifinal showdown.

BUFORD at WARE COUNTY
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Waycross
-- BUFORD (10-1): No. 2 seed Region 8-5A; defeated Decatur 43-6 last week in the first round
-- WARE COUNTY (8-3): No. 1 seed Region 2-5A; defeated Ola 35-22 last week in the first round
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... Two programs with a rich playoff history. And something will probably give in this one ... The Gators are making their 18th straight playoff appearance and have won 9 region titles in that span. From 2007 to last season, the Gators advanced to the quarterfinals or better seven times, including a Class 4A championship game berth in 2012 against Gainesville and Deshaun Watson [a 49-13 Red Elephants win]. However, they have not gotten out of the second round since 2016. ... The Wolves extended their playoff streak to 21 consecutive seasons and they have made the quarterfinals or better 19 straight times, including winning 10 state titles. ... Ware County is nearly unbeatable at home in the playoffs over the past decade. The Gators have won 7 straight home playoff games and are 14-1 at Memorial Stadium since their run to the 2012 championship game. Their last home playoff loss came to Mays in 2014, 21-18. ... Buford is just 4-2 in its last 6 true road games, including a 31-28 loss to Clarke Central two weeks ago. ... On paper, the Wolves look like a heavy favorite. They are 4th in offense (408, 37.0 ppg) and 8th in defense (151, 13.7 ppg) while Ware County is just 22nd in offense (296, 26.9 ppg) and 19th in defense (219, 19.9 ppg) in Class 5A. ... Gabe Ervin leads Buford with 941 yards rushing. ... So. QB Thomas Castellanos is putting up a big season for the Gators with 966 yards rushing 866 yards passing.
-- NEXT: Winner gets Veterans-Carrollton winner in the quarterfinal round

CLASS 3A
As always, Class 3A is loaded and the top teams all rolled into the second round. Only one non-No. 1 or No. 2 seed -- Dawson County -- managed to advance. All but one team [Cook, 5-7] still alive has won at least eight games. ... Region 7, often chided as the weakest in the classification was the only region to move three teams into the second round in GAC, North Hall, and Dawson County. Region 5, thought to be the deepest region, was the recipient of Region 7’s breakthrough as only region champ, and defending state champ, Cedar Grove advanced beating Fannin County. Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 all had two teams advance. ... Defenses will need to be on high-alert the rest of the way. The top 12 offensive teams and 14 of the top 15 teams moved on, led by Peach County’s 47.1 ppg unit, while just 8 of the top 13 defenses advanced. Jenkins leads the way allowing just 6.9 ppg with Cook being the 32nd-rated defense (24.3 ppg) in Class 3A. ... One of the best matchups will have Dawson County and its No. 7 offense (401, 36.4 ppg) vs. the Jenkins top-ranked defense. ... Another intriguing showdown will have 2 of the top 3 rushing offenses meeting. Jefferson leads 3A with 348.1 rushing yards a game with Appling County sitting 3rd at 268.3 ypg on the ground. ... Calhoun and Peach County are meeting in the 2nd round in a rematch of last year’s semifinals. In fact, all four of last year’s semifinalists are on the same side of the bracket in 2019.

APPLING COUNTY at JEFFERSON
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson
-- RADIO: WDUN AM 550
-- APPLING COUNTY (9-2): No. 2 seed Region 2-3A; defeated Westside-Macon 28-7 last week in the first round
-- JEFFERSON (9-1): No. 1 seed Region 8-3A; defeated Sonoraville 49-17 last week in the first round
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... Two of Georgia’s best rushing teams will square off in what is expected to be a hard-hitting game. Jefferson leads 3A with 348.1 rushing yards a game with Appling County sitting 3rd at 268.3 ypg on the ground. ... But as good as the offenses are both defenses have been near the top of 3A all season. Jefferson is 3rd allowing just 101 points (10.1 ppg) and the Pirates are 6th giving up just 113 points (10.2 ppg). ... The Pirates got their first playoff win last week since 2014. It is the 7th time in 8 years the Dragons have advanced at least to the second round. ... Jefferson has been tough at home in the playoffs. Since their title run in 2012, they are 12-2 at Memorial Stadium with both losses coming to private schools (Westminster, ‘18; Blessed Trinity, ‘14 in OT). The Dragons are 5-1 at home in 2019. Appling County, however, is 4-1 on the road in 2019.
-- NEXT: Winner gets North Hall-Crisp County in the quarterfinal round

DAWSON COUNTY at JENKINS
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Savannah Memorial Stadium, Savannah
-- RADIO: www.northgeorgiasportslink.com 
-- DAWSON COUNTY (8-3): No. 3 seed Region 7; defeated Westminster 27-3 last week in the first round
-- JENKINS (10-1): No. 1 seed Region 3; defeated Adairsville 41-0 last week in the first round
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... The Tigers pulled off their best-ever playoff win last week for the school's first against a top-10 team from the same classification. ... The Warriors are in the midst of their best 4-year run in program history. After having never made it past the first round until 2016, they are looking for their fourth straight trip to the Elite 8. ... The Tigers are on a similar run with three trips to the 2nd round over the past four seasons. ... This could be one of the best defensive battles of the playoffs. Jenkins leads Class 3A yielding just 76 points (6.9 ppg) while the Tigers put together their best playoff effort ever last week holding Westminster to just 124 total yards. The Wildcats had averaged 30.0 ppg over their past and averaged more than 300 yards of offense a game. ... The Dawson County offense (401 points, 36.4 ppg) will be the 2nd-best unit Jenkins has faced all season. However, they held No. 2 Benedictine to just 9 points in the regular-season finale for the region title. ... Tigers’ RB Shawn Thomas has rushed for over 800 yards on the season while So. QB Zach Holtzclaw has thrown for 2,167 yards. ... The Warriors’ Damazzio Harris has rushed for 1,303 yards this season.
-- NEXT: Winner gets North Murray-Jackson winner in the quarterfinal round

NORTH HALL at CRISP COUNTY
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Cougar Den, Cordele
-- RADIO: WDUN FM 102.9
-- NORTH HALL (8-3): No. 2 seed Region 7; defeated Lovett 24-21 last week in the first round
-- CRISP COUNTY (8-3): No. 1 seed Region 1; defeated Southeast Bulloch 46-0 last week in the first round
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... Both teams come into this one rolling on 5-game win streaks. ... The Cougars advanced to the 2nd round for the first time since a semifinal run in 2016. North Hall is trying to make its first quarterfinals since 2012. ... The key matchup may be the North Hall offense, which is 12th in Class 3A averaging 32.3 ppg, against the Cougars’ 8th-rated defense, which is allowing just 11.3 ppg. ... The Trojans’ got a huge game from Clark Howell against Lovett, who had no carries until last week and exploded for 187 yards and 3 TDs subbing for the injured J.T. Fair. ... The other matchup has two units that should be an even match. The Crisp County offense is averaging 28.0 ppg while the North Hall defense is yielding 17.7 ppg. However, the Cougars had two defensive scores last week on TD returns of an interception and a fumble. Crisp County also blocked a punt on special teams.
-- NEXT: Winner gets Jefferson-Appling County winner in the quarterfinal round

CLASS 2A
It is usually a loaded field every season and 2019 is no exception. However, there will be a new champion as defending state champ Heard County was ousted by Pepperell. Six of the 8 quarterfinalists from 2018 also are still alive. All 8 region champs and 6 of the No. 2 seeds advanced through the first round. ... The top 9 offenses, including No. 1 Rabun County and No. 7 Union County, all are still around while 9 of the top 10 defenses are still alive. ... Regions 1 and 2 both had three teams move into the 2nd round while Regions 5, 6, 7, and 8 each split their four meetings in the first round. ... The two teams in the 2017 state title game, Rabun County and Hapeville Charter, are on track to meet in the semifinals.

TOOMBS COUNTY at RABUN COUNTY
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Frank Snyder Stadium, Tiger
-- TOOMBS COUNTY (8-2): No. 2 seed Region 2; defeated Hephzibah 37-34 last week in the first round
-- RABUN COUNTY (11-0): No. 1 seed Region 8; defeated B.E.S.T Academy 38-0 last week in the first round
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... The Bulldogs are into the 2nd round for just the second time since 2000. They are looking for their first trip to the quarterfinals since 2008. Meanwhile, the Wildcats are into the 2nd round for the 6th straight season and they are looking a quarterfinals berth for 5th straight season. ... The key will be if the Bulldogs can find a way to slow the No. 1 offense in the classification. Rabun is averaging a whopping 47.5 ppg while Toombs is yielding just 16.5 ppg. Wildcats’ So. QB Gunner Stockton is the No. 1 QB in the nation in his class and leads the classification with 2,896 yards passing. He has added for 872 rushing yards and has accounted for 57 total TDs. His favorite target is Georgia-commit Braxton Hicks with 51 catches for 975 yards and 11 TDs. ... The Bulldogs are averaging 27.5 ppg and the Wildcats are surrendering 16.4 ppg on defense. Rabun is a ridiculous plus-18 on turnover ratio with 15 INTs and has added 28 sacks as well. ... Toombs County knows how to rally. The Bulldogs fell behind quickly 13-0 in the first quarter last week but outscored game against Hephzibah 37-21 over the final three quarters.
-- NEXT: Winner gets Thomasville-Pepperell winner in the quarterfinal round

UNION COUNTY at METTER
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: The Jungle, Metter
-- UNION COUNTY (10-1): No. 2 seed Region 8; defeated South Atlanta 19-15 last week in the first round
-- METTER (10-1): No. 1 seed Region 2; defeated Screven County 27-19 last week in the first round
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... The Panthers finally ended their playoff futility snagging their first-ever postseason win in the first round. They had been 0-6 all-time in the playoffs until last week. ... The Tigers also shook off some playoff frustrations getting their first playoff victory since 2003 last week. ... Like several other matchups around the area, this one will come down to the Tigers’ No. 2 defense (87 points, 7.8 ppg) against the Panthers No. 7 offense (428, 38.9 ppg). The 19 points by Screven last week was the season-high against the Metter defense. ... Only twice, with their full complement of players, have the Panthers been held below 33 points. Sr. QB Pierson Allison has passed for 2,804 yards and 28 TDs for the season and has a pair of big WRs in Sawyer Drake and a nearly-100 percent Kyle Morlock. RB Jonah Daniel has over 1,400 yards, including the eventual game-winning TD last week... But the Union defense, which is just 20th in 2A allowing 18 ppg, has been stingy most of the season. Only twice have they given up more than 21 points.
-- NEXT: Winner gets Brooks County-Rockmart winner in the quarterfinal round

CLASS A PUBLIC
The higher seeds had a rough go in the opening round as four lower-seeded teams pulled the upset (4-4), highlighted by No. 21 seeded Warren County knocking off Terrell County and No. 20 seed Emanuel County Institute beating McIntosh County Academy. The higher seeded teams were 7-1 in the first round in 2018. ... Seven teams that did not make the 2nd round in 2018 advanced in 2019. However, 6 of the 8 quarterfinal teams from 2018, including Commerce, are still alive. ... There will be some great matchups across the board in the 2nd round. The top 9 and 13 of the top 15 Public offenses and the top 6 and 11 of the top 12 defenses all advanced. The best matchup could be Pelham and its top-rated offense (52.8 ppg) vs. the fourth-ranked Wilcox County defense (10.7 ppg). Another will be Commerce’s No. 4-ranked offense (37.3 pgg) against Lincoln County’s No. 3 defense (7.6 ppg). 

COMMERCE at LINCOLN COUNTY
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Buddy Bufford Field, Lincolnton
-- COMMERCE (9-2): Defeated Trion 23-6 in the first round
-- LINCOLN COUNTY (8-2): Off last week; first-round bye
-- NOTABLE: Lincoln County leads series 13-4. First meeting since 2011 and 8th all-time meeting in the playoffs. The Red Devils won 35-14 in 2011 and have won seven straight over the Tigers. The last win for Commerce came in 2002, 28-6, in the last of four straight wins for the Tigers (2000-02). ... This will be a renewal of one of the better Class A rivalries back in the 1990s and 2000s when both teams were almost always among the state title contenders. ... The Red Devils are 8-1 all-time at home vs. the Tigers. The only Commerce win in Lincolnton came in 2001, 13-12. ... Both teams will run the ball 90 percent of the time. But it will feature one of the better matchups in the classification on Friday with the Commerce offense, which is 8th in Class A averaging 37.3 ppg (411 points) against the Lincoln defense, which is 4th in Class A allowing just 7.6 ppg. ... The Red Devils offense is 22nd scoring 328 points (32.8 ppg) while the Tigers defense is 22nd allowing 16.2 ppg. Lincoln County is led by Kolbi Ferguson, who leads Class A Public in rushing with 1,189 yards and a whopping 26 TDs on the season. ... A key stat to watch will be the turnover battle. The Red Devils have forced 19 turnovers on the season and are a plus-12 on the season.
-- NEXT: Winner gets the Schley County (No. 18)-Marion County (No. 2) winner in the quarterfinal round

  • Associated Categories: Sports, High School Sports, Friday Game Night
  • Associated Tags: High school football, North Hall football, Buford football, Commerce football, Dawson County football, Jefferson football, Rabun County football, Union County football
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