Then there were 10, 2 in each classification set to square off for the State Title.
Grayson entered their semifinal tilt with Colquitt seeking revenge and got it started early going 12 plays and 77 yards capping it with a Jordan Germany touchdown run and a 7-0 lead. Robert Nkemdiche carried the load with 45 yards rushing on that drive while Germany had 28 yards rushing on the drive. Colquitt would come right back on their first drive to tie it on touchdown run by Shermaine Washington capping a 11-play 80 yard drive evening the count at 7.
Devin Gillespie, who was unused on the Rams first possession, got in to the act in a big way taking the first play from scrimmage after the Colquitt score 78 yards to the house for a 14-7 Grayson Ram lead.
Then the Grayson defense rose to the occasion stopping Colquitt on a fourth down which setup a Nick Schuessler to Austin Meadows 44 yards touchdown pass to give Grayson a “comfy” 21-7 lead with 11:08 left in the second quarter. Colquitt would fumble the ensuing kickoff on a forceful hit by Jordan Germany, but would be unable to turn it into points after passing on a field goal attempt and failing on the fourth down attempt.
Colquitt would then put together another long scoring drive against a Grayson defense, one that has not yielded many of those all season. The Packers of Moultrie went 11 plays and 79 yards as Willie Woodyard finished it off with a 15-yard touchdown run pulling the “Pack Attack” to within 7 at 21-14. That score would hold into halftime.
Grayson, if you remember, scored on their opening possession of the game and that formula worked on their opening possession of the second half after forcing Colquitt to punt. Robert Nkemdiche found the end zone from 1 yard out with a little less than 8 minutes to play in the third quarter for a 28-14 Grayson Ram lead.
As was the case to open the game, Colquitt would answer on it’s next possession. Colquitt quarterback, Cole Seagraves would hit Ty Flournoy-Smith (27 yards) and Bobby Hill on big passing plays, Hill for 33 yards down to the Grayson one yard line, with Shermain Washington finishing it off with a one-yard touchdown run and a new scoreboard with bulbs showing 28-21 favoring Grayson.
Grayson, who had passes twice earlier on field goal attempts in the game, would miss mid left on their only attempt on the ensuing possession. Colquitt would cash it in on Willie Woodyard’s second touchdown run of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter knotting score at 28 tight. Back to back 30 yard passes from Seagraves to Ty Flournoy-Smith and Tre Cooper set up the score from Woodyard. The tension and drama would heighten from there.
Grayson again facing a fourth down, this time on their own 39, would go for it and fail. Colquitt was held in check by the Grayson defense and had to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Oscar Luna to give the “Pack Attack” their first lead of the game at 31-28 and the folks from Moultrie, GA were rocking their side of Grayson Community Stadium with 7:17 left in the final frame.
It was now time for Grayson to come from behind if they wanted to win, a position they aren’t too familiar being in this season. Facing a key fourth and three they went to the air and got a pass interference call and new life. Then facing a third down and eight Grayson went to the air again and Colquitt was hit with pass interference again, again a late flag and again upsetting the Moultrie following. Grayson would stay composed as Schuessler would find his longtime teammate and friend Marcus Lindquist from 6-yards out giving the Rams a 35-31 lead with 28 .7 seconds left in the contest. Colquitt had no magic left from Kingsland, Ga when they topped Camden County on a last minute drive and two-point conversion to advance to the semifinals.
“We knew what we had to do… we had to be ready to make the play and execute it”, Grayson QB Nick Schuessler said afterwards. He continued. “Were always gonna have haters out there… as long as were winning doesn’t matter if we run, pass whatever”, in response to some of the “flaws” that many see in the Grayson Ram offense.
And how about that last TD pass, which was his second of the night?
“At first I didn’t like the call, I’ll be honest with you. Me and Marcus have such good chemistry, I’ve been playing with him for so long, that’s one of my best friends, he was covered at first and then he broke off his route and he made a heck of a catch and my line gave me the best protection”, Schuessler stated.
Grayson came in ranked high in several national polls and Colquitt was right there with them in the polls deservedly so despite the losses to Warner Robins (class 4A semifinalist) and Region 1-5A foe Valdosta,a 5A Playoff team)
The wins give Grayson (14-0) their first appearance in the state championship game in the programs history. For Colquitt their season is complete with an 11-3 record and Head Coach Rush Propst standing in the middle of the field around the fifteen yard line watching in frustration as Grayson students and fans rushed (no pun intended) Britt-Moody Field in celebration.
Grayson will face nationally ranked Walton who hung on to defeat a game Lassiter squad 30-24. Walton’s standout running back and former Lassiter Trojan Tyren Jones rushed for two touchdowns (13 and 65 yards) while teammateParker McLeod scored on the ground and tossed a 79-yard touchdown pass to Dakota Washington. Lassiter Eddie Printz tossed the ball around the yard 57 times finishing just shy of 400 yards with 396 with 34 completions and two touchdowns. Isiah Willis added a touchdown on the ground for a Lassiter team that found itself nationally ranked for the first time this season going in the game.
In the 4A: The Tucker Tigers (14-0) defeated Northside-Warner Robins (13-1) 17-16 on the road to clinch their berth in the 4A state title game. Tucker and Northside-Warner Robins entered the game ranked in the national polls with a 22 spot separation in one. Tuckers’ Jordan Landry would fall just shy of 100 yards rushing with 96, including a 31-yard touchdown run. However he was upstaged by the Tucker defense. Northside-Warner-Robins was was sitting on the door step ready to cash the ticket to the Dome when their hopes were done in. They fumbled into the end zone and Tucker’s Justin Rivers picked it up and went 105 yards for the Tiger touchdown. Tuckers defense would hold in the final 5 minutes of the contest to advance. Tucker will face 14-0 Lovejoy who got by Warner Robins 21-6 and held the Demons without a touchdown.
The Lovejoy defense has been sick all season entering the game with 8 shotouts in the previous 13 games. Tonight was no different. Warner Robins did not help themselves either with mistakes. The Demons had a first punt blocked, missed a 32-yard field goal, committed a costly holding penalty in a first and goal situation, lost a fumble, missed passes that could have been big play touchdowns during the course of the contest. After a scoreless first quarter the Wildcats would but up a 7 spot in each of the final quarters. Alejandro Benefield would connect with AJ Jackson twice for touchdowns, both off of Warner Robins interceptions and Travis Custis added a 27-yard touchdown in the fourth to seal the deal on sending Lovejoy to their first state title game appearance.
In 3A… Burke County blasted Gainesville 63-28 and Peach got by Cairo 16-7.
In 2A… a rematch of Buford and Carver-Columbus was in order. for the teams third meeting in two seasons. Dontravious Wilson provided the first points for the Wolves on at touchdown run. Torrance McGee hit Darius Williams on a 68-yard pass setting up McHee touchdown run to even the score at 7 all. Carver-Columbus would recover a Buford fumble and turn it into points on a Noah Hickey touchdown run and a 13-7 Carver lead at the half. The last time Buford trailed in a football game was against Carver-Columbus in September of 2010 when they lost 14-0 at the same stadium in .
After halftime, Buford would never look back scoring 21 unanswered points on Sam Clay, Nathan Staub and Rick LeGrant second half touchdowns.
Buford has been ranked high in the national polls since late August. The Wolves will face a familiar foe in Calhoun. Calhoun defeated Appling County going away 51-14 to advance. The two programs will be meeting for the fourth consecutive year in the 2A state title game with Buford winning the previous 3. Buford is seeking a state record fifth consecutive state title.
In 1A… Savannah Christian ended Prince Ave Christian’s quiet run for a title defeating them 27-0. Prince Avenue was the only team to be held scoreless of all semifinal teams in all classifications. Landmark Christian defeated Eagles Landing Christian 14-7 to advance to play Savannah Christian.
The State Championships will be held next weekend December 9th (2A and 4A games in that order) and 10th (1A, 3A and 5A games in that order) at the Georgia Dome.