Posted: Saturday, November 24th 2012 at 5:00am
Football playoffs: Six area teams march on to quarterfinals
By Morgan Lee Editor
Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson, left, tries to pull away from a Kell defender during the Red Elephants 61-42 win in Marietta on Friday. / photo: David Weikel
North Hall and Buford did it with defense; Gainesville and Mill Creek did it with offense, while Jefferson and North Gwinnett relied on both as all six teams stormed their way through the second round of the state football playoffs on Friday.
All six marauded their way into next week’s quarterfinal round, with a few of them making some history along the way.
Jefferson is back in the final eight for the first time since 1977, while North Hall returned to the third round after a five-year absence. Gainesville will also be making its first-ever Class AAAAA quarterfinal appearance.
The Red Elephants will be doing so thanks to an explosive offense and opportunistic defense, as Gainesville put up 448 yards and came up with two key second half interceptions in a 61-42 win at Kell. The victory marked the Red Elephants’ first road playoff victory since 2004 and did not come easy, as the visitors rallied from a 35-21 halftime deficit. Quarterback Deshaun Watson torched the Longhorns for eight touchdowns on the night – taking his season tally to 61 – as the junior helped lead the Red Elephants into a quarterfinal battle next week at Harris County (which defeated Warner Robins 31-21 on Friday).
While North Hall managed just 239 yards in their Class AAA quarterfinal showdown against Morgan County, the tally proved more than enough for the Trojans’ defense, who paved the way for a 13-9 win at The Brickyard. The Trojans allowed just 12 yards rushing in the second half against a grinding Bulldogs attack, holding firm to help North Hall back into the third round for the first time since 2007. The Trojans have won nine straight playoff games at home and will get a chance to go for No. 10 against Peach County -- which hammered Pierce County 43-15 on Friday.
Region 7-AAA will also be represented by Buford next week, as the Wolves fought their way into the quarterfinals for the 13th straight time courtesy a 13-0 shutout of North Oconee. Third-ranked Buford held the Titans to just 158 yards during the contest and took advantage of a North Oconee fumble to grab the only touchdown of the contest -- a 20-yard scoring strike from Taylor Mitchell to Mikey Bart. The Wolves’ reward is a trip to Columbus, where they will face a Carver team dominated Rockmart 45-16. The two foes met up in last season’s Class AA semifinals, where Buford won 28-13.
In this year’s Class AA bracket, Jefferson is headed back to the quarterfinals for the first time in 35 years courtesy a 35-7 defeat of Westminster in the second round. The Dragons’ red-hot defense shut down the Wildcats, allowing just 171 yards, while Jefferson quarterback Bryant Shirreffs rushed for 248 yards, passed for 81 and put up four touchdowns. The Dragons will get another home game next week, as Fitzgerald will travel to Memorial Stadium after obliterating Vidalia 52-20.
In Class AAAAAA, Mill Creek running back Jacorey Lewis continued his astonishing season, running over Brookwood for 252 yards and three touchdowns, as he helped lead the Hawks to their second ever quarterfinal berth in a 56-21 victory. Lewis became the seventh Gwinnett County running back to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. Mill Creek will travel to face North Cobb next week.
Commerce did see its season come to an end on Friday, falling 36-7 at Seminole County in the Class A public playoffs.
Be sure to check our sports and high school sports pages for in-depth game stories.
North Hall 13, Morgan County 10
Jefferson 35, Westminster 7
SECOND ROUND STATE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RESULTS FOR AREA TEAMS, Nov. 23
Buford 13, North Oconee 0
Seminole County 36, Commerce 7
Gainesville 61, Kell 42
Jefferson 35, Westminster 7
Mill Creek 56, Brookwood 21
North Gwinnett 28, Grayson 10
North Hall 13, Morgan County 9
STATE QUARTERFINAL SCHEDULE FOR AREA TEAMS
North Gwinnett at Lovejoy
Mill Creek at North Cobb
Gainesville at Harris County
Peach County at North Hall
Buford at Carver, Columbus
Fitzgerald at Jefferson
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