Monday May 29th, 2023 8:30PM

1st round playoff wrap: Bluff gets 1st-ever postseason win; NHall, Buford, Commerce roll; GHS falls

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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Region 7-3A made its bid Friday night as Class 3A's best after winning three of its four matchups against Region 5-3A in the first round of the playoffs.

Cherokee Bluff earned its first-ever playoff win in its playoff debut pulling away from LaFayette in the second half for a 35-7 win at home behind a stellar defensive effort over the final three quarters. North Hall's Clark Howell, the state's sixth-leading rusher, had a huge game to lead the Trojans to a 36-28 victory over North Murray at The Brickyard.

Dawson County's Zach Holtzclaw, the top passer in Class 3A, led the Tigers to a 45-34 win over Adairsville on the road. White County, however, could not overcome a rough first quarter in a 48-35 loss to Region 5-3A champion Rockmart. The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 20-0 lead and the Warriors could not get closer than 7 points the rest of the way.

Commerce won its eighth-straight game with a 52-20 win over Manchester, its first over the Blue Devils since 1948. The Manchester defense was no match for the Tigers' triple-option attack, which piled up 352 rushing yards behind Sammy Brown, who had 133 yards on 13 carries.

Buford's first foray into Class 6A was successful as the Wolves dominated a good Douglas County team in a 48-0 rout at Tom Riden Stadium. However, despite 181 yards and two touchdowns from Joshua Pickett, Habersham Central could not get past a tough Rome squad in a 35-14 loss in the Class 6A playoffs on the road.

Gainesville also could not grab its first playoff win since 2015 falling to perennial power Archer, 21-14, in Lawrenceville in Class 7A. The Red Elephants led early but the Tigers scored with less than a minute left for the game-winner.

And, Lakeview Academy's first-ever playoff appearance was cut short by North Cobb Christian, 28-7, in Acworth in the Class A Private playoffs. The Lions stayed within striking distance into the third quarter before the Eagles pulled away late.

You can check AccessWDUN's Friday Game Night page for game stories and video highlights.

Four more first-round games involving northeast Georgia area teams will take place on Saturday.

(Games at higher seeded team)

Archer 21, Gainesville 14

Buford 48, Douglas County 0
Rome 35, Habersham Central 14

Dawson County 45, Adairsville 34
Cherokee Bluff  35, LaFayette 7
North Hall 36, North Murray 28
Rockmart 48, White County 35

North Cobb Christian 28, Lakeview Academy 7

Commerce 52, Manchester 20

(Games at higher seeded team)

Luella (R5, S3) at Flowery Branch (R8, S2), 6 p.m.
Mt. Zion-Jonesboro (R5, S4) at Jefferson (R8, S1), 1 p.m.

Haralson County (R5, S4) at Rabun County (R8, S1), 7:30 p.m.
Union County (R8, S3) at Heard County (R5, S2) 1 p.m.

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