WARRENTON — Memorial Day rallied from a 20-point first-quarter deficit to stun host Briarwood 27-20 in a GISA Class AA semifinal on Friday night.
The Blue Thunder (7-3) will face Robert Toombs in the title game Friday at Mercer University with kickoff set for 5:30 p.m.
It was an emotional week for Memorial Day junior Winston Wright, whose grandmother, Merlin Byrd, passed away Thursday. But the standout came through in crunch time for the Blue Thunder as his 50-yard interception return for a touchdown put Memorial ahead 27-20 with three minutes left.
“We most definitely wanted to win this game for her,” Wright said.
Christian Smith had a 60-yard scoring run for the Blue Thunder, and Delvecchio Powell added a pair of short scoring runs.
This will be Memorial Day’s eighth trip to the finals since 2008, the Blue Thunder have won five times.
The Blue Thunder started the season with a 1-2 record, but have come on strong.
“I think it was just a question of maturing as a team this year.” Memorial Day coach Michael Thompson said in a phone interview after the game. “We only have two seniors on a 22-man roster, so it took a while for us to jel as a team. But now we’re peaking at the right time. I’m really proud of them.”
LIBERTY 43, DOUGHERTY 6
HINESVILLE – Junior running back Kris Coleman had a pair of rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown to help lead Liberty County to a convincing win in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs. The Panthers (8-3) move on to host Westside Macon (8-3), a 14-0 first-round winner over Windsor Forest, next Friday.
Liberty quarterback Dionte Bowens threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and teammate Markell Johnson accounted for two scores — one on an interception return and the other on a run. Russell Dandy added a receiving score for Liberty, which led the Trojans (2-9) 43-0 at halftime.
LEE COUNTY 29, RICHMOND HILL 21
LEESBURG — The Richmond Hill Wildcats gave the hosting Lee County Trojans all they could handle in the first round of the GHSA Class 5A playoffs, but the Trojans advance after getting a win.
The two teams traded blows in the first half. Lee County’s Jase Orndorff found Josh Asbury for a 30-yard touchdown in the first quarter to give the Trojans an early 7-0 lead.
Richmond Hill answered with a 47-yard touchdown connection between Kasey Green and Sam James to tie it up at 7 in the second quarter.
Lee County put together a scoring drive that ended with a 6-yard Orndorff run. The Wildcats fired right back with a 78-yard run by Aaron Bedgood on the first play after the kickoff that put Richmond Hill on the Lee 2. From there, Richmond Hill punched it in to tie the game up at 14 with 2:16 left in the half. The Trojans tacked on a field goal at the end of the half to reclaim the lead.
Lee County was able to pull away in the second half after two Austin Beaver field goals and a 45-yard pick-six by TJ Harris.
Nico DeCosta led the Wildcats’ defense with 13 combined tackles.
The Wildcats (7-3) were led by quarterback Kasey Green, who completed 14 of 26 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Bedgood added nine carries for 132 yards and a score, while Sam James contributed seven catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. Maurice Smith had Richmond Hill’s other touchdown.
— Chaunte’l Powell, Albany Herald
COOK COUNTY 26, TATTNALL COUNTY 14
ADEL — Cook County (6-5) got past Tattnall County by scoring 2 touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Darius Cleveland rushed for 221 yards and two touchdowns, Cleveland also passed for a touchdown to Walter Eady. Deontre Johnson ran 85 yards with a kickoff return for a score for Tattnall County (4-6).
TC |0|7|0|7 |--|14
CC |6 | 6|0 |14|--|26
CC—Darius Cleveland 5 run (kick failed)
TC-Deon Durden 20 pass from Craige Saxton (Wyatt Cronan kick)
CC-Walter Eady 1 pass from Cleveland (kick failed)
TC—Deontre Johnson 85 kickoff return (Cronan kick)
CC-Cleveland 2 run (Deontrea Brown pass from Cleveland)
CC-KJ Fiveash 1 run (kick failed)