No one saw Whitewater’s 21-14 upset over top ranked Northside-Warner Robins coming, except maybe the Wildcats themselves.
“Nobody thought we could do it,” quarterback Renaldo Jenkins said. “All week at practice we just kept working hard, we believed in ourselves.”
Josh Clemons scored three times in the first quarter and ran for 211 yards en route to possibly the state playoffs’ biggest upset thus far. Taylor Stanford also caught a touchdown to give the visitors (9-2) a 28-0 lead after one.
However, the Eagles scored a late touchdown in the third quarter and pulled within a score with 3:25 to go, but never saw the ball again.
Clemons finished with 32 rushed for 211 yards, and two scores on the night, while Rhodes threw for two scores. Whitewater plays Ware Co in round two.
Chattahoochee 42, Pope 14: Chattahoochee cruised past Pope in the first round of the Class 4A football playoffs. The Cougars got four passing touchdowns from quarterback Timmy Byerly.
Chattahoochee (11-0), hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2003, sprinted out to a 21-0 lead at halftime. The Cougars started with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Byerly to Kane Whitehurst to start the scoring after Pope failed to convert a fourth down on its first possession. Byerly and Whitehurst would hook up for two more scoring passes from 5 and 35 yards out. Whitehurst, also a safety on defense, helped set himself up for his second touchdown catch when he stopped a Greyhound drive with an interception in the second quarter.
Pope (7-4) got two third-quarter touchdowns from quarterback Holland Frost, who ran 4 yards for a score and hit Garrett Brown on a 4-yard pass. Chattahoochee capped off the scoring with a 55-yard pass from Byerly to Josh Gregory in the fourth quarter.
Chattahoochee, which dropped down to Class 4A after struggling in the state’s highest classification, will host Marist in the second round next Friday.
Woodward Academy 18, Ridgeland 10: The visiting War Eagles (10-1) surprised Ridgeland (9-2) by jumping out to a 15-0 halftime lead. Quarterback Andrew Adams ran for two 1-yard touchdowns in the first half. Woodward sealed the game with a third-down sack in War Eagle territory in the last minute.
McEachern 31, East Coweta 19: Dondre Pernell accounted for 237 all purpose yards and three touchdowns to pace the hosts (10-1). Trailing 24-7 in the fourth, big plays fro quarterback Zach Hutcheson helped ECHS (7-4) pull within five, but Marquis Roberts iced it with a 1-yard run with two minutes left.
Lincoln County 49, Pace Academy 6: Host Lincoln County (9-2) scored 35 unanswered points en route to a dominant win over Pace Academy (9-2). Craig Jones rushed for two touchdowns, including a 90-yard jaunt as the first-half clock expired. Sherrod Jones also scored twice on the ground for the host Red Devils.
Westminster 10, North Oconee 7: Khamal Brown returned an interception 54 yards to set up Westminster’s game-winning field goal by Jeremy Godsell from 29 yards with just over one minute remaining. Brown also scored on a 35-yard reception to lead the host Wildcats (8-3) past North Oconee (9-2).
Buford, 52 Hart Co 22: Dominique Swope scored on runs of 21 and 48 yards in the first quarter for Buford (11-1) and the visiting Bulldogs (6-5) never recovered. Eric Barr scored on an 82-yard scamper in the second en route to a 38-0 halftime lead. Seon Jones and Andrew Sciara added scores.
GAC 49, Fannin County 14: The visiting Spartans dominated Fannin County (6-5) behind 269 rushing yards. GAC (9-2) used four total touchdowns from Kyle Scales, including three on the ground. David Harber had two interceptions and returned one 43 yards for a score.
North Gwinnett 56, Lassiter 7: The host Bulldogs (11-0) sprinted to a 35-0 halftime lead and coasted from there. Running back Donnie Miles rushed 12 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns, including a 65-yard first-quarter run. Star athlete C.J. Uzomah ran for and caught touchdowns while accounting for 153 total yards.
Wesleyan 48, Warren County 13: The host Wolves (10-1) led the Screaming Devils (8-3) 27-0 at the half and cruised to a blowout victory. Quarterback Andrew Frerking threw two touchdowns, Zander Yost ran for a score and returned a kickoff 70 yards for another score, and Kyle Karempelis ran for two more touchdowns.
East Paulding 35, Rome 0: Kamani Thomas rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns as host East Paulding shut out Rome (6-5). Sean Ashley completed nine of 11 passes for 68 yards and two scores while the Raiders (9-2) also got a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown from Kyler Neal.
Hiram 35, Lambert 10: Jovan Simon scored once on the ground and caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jared McClain as the visiting Hornets (9-2) quickly erased a 7-0 deficit against Lambert (8-3). Charlie Sassington added two rushing touchdowns for Hiram and Trey Wesley scored on a 73-yard run.
Contributors: Alex Ewalt, Ricky Dimon, Josh Bagriansky