GHSA STATE TITLE GAMES: Buford, Sandy Creek win Class AA, AAAA championships

Photo by Curtis Compton

Photo by Curtis Compton

ATLANTA -- This time it was close, but Calhoun couldn't end Buford's reign.

Jessel Curry scored both touchdowns as Buford won its third straight Georgia High School Association Class AA state championship with a 13-10 victory over Calhoun on Friday.

Curry, headed to Auburn as a linebacker, had a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and scored on a 5-yard pass from Alexander Ross early in the fourth quarter.

Calhoun (14-1) scored with 5:06 remaining on a 5-yard reverse by Da'Rick Rogers, but Buford (14-1) didn't let the Yellow Jackets get the ball back.

The championship was the sixth this decade and seventh overall for Buford, which defeated Calhoun 45-21 in the title game a year ago. The Wolves also won three consecutive state championships from 2001-2003.

"Some people doubted us this year," Curry said. "But we proved them wrong. You always want to go out a winner."

Rogers, who has committed to Georgia, caught 10 passes for 69 yards, but came up just short of setting the state record for receiving yards in a season. Georgia sophomore Tavarres King had 1,641 yards for Habersham Central in 2007. Rogers finished with 1,635.

Calhoun lost two fumbles in Buford territory and Nash Nance, who was 17 of 24 for 155 yards, threw an interception near the goal line.

Calhoun's Hal Lamb was trying to become the first son of a former state championship coach to win a title. His father, Ray, won two championships at Warren County and one at Commerce.

"Offensively, we laid an egg," Lamb said. "This hurts, because we really thought it was our year."

It was the third trip to the title game in the past five years for Calhoun, but the Yellow Jackets' only state championship came in 1952.

Both fumble recoveries by Buford came in the third quarter. David Petroni missed a 28-yard field goal attempt after the first. But the second, caused by Curry and recovered at the 45-yard line by Darrian Smith, set up the decisive touchdown with 10:50 left to play.

Calhoun's touchdown was set up by a fumble at the 11-yard line after Smith had picked off Nance. It was Buford's only turnover of the game.

Buford was able to run out the clock after Calhoun's touchdown, thanks to three first downs. The big play was a 35-yard halfback pass from Ryan Dillard to Paris Head.

Buford led 6-3 at halftime after a plunge by Curry late in the second quarter capped a 60-yard drive. The drive also featured a 35-yard halfback pass from Jamal English to Head. The extra-point attempt was blocked.

Calhoun had taken the lead less than 2 minutes into the game, Adam Griffin kicking a 39-yard field goal



Sandy Creek and coach Chip Walker made history Friday night.

Jarrett Davis caught touchdown passes of 72 and 37 yards from Ronnie Bell in the fourth quarter to give Sandy Creek a 29-15 victory over Clarke Central in the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA state championship game at the Georgia Dome.

The state title was the first for a team from Fayette County and Sandy Creek's Chip Walker became the first son of a former state championship coach to win a state title himself. His father, Rodney, led West Rome to a Class AA championship in 1984.

Raijon Neal had two touchdown runs for Sandy Creek, scoring from 30 yards out in the first quarter and capping the victory for the Patriots (14-1) with a 21-yard score with 3:29 remaining.

Clarke Central (12-3) led 9-6 when Adam Erickson kicked his third field goal midway through the third quarter. But Sandy Creek, playing in a title game for the first time, dominated after that.

By the time Martay Mattox scored from a yard out for Clarke Central with 1:41 remaining, the game was already decided.

Davis caught five passes for 182 yards and Neal rushed for 166 yards on 19 carries. Davis has committed to play at Louisville and Neal is headed to Mississippi State.

Davis' second touchdown catch came with 6:58 remaining on the first play after Sandy Creek held Clarke Central on a fourth-and-1 play from the Gladiators' 37. The first touchdown by Davis had come with 10:52 left in the fourth quarter.

Sandy Creek's only loss was 28-27 in double overtime to East Coweta in the first game of the season.

Sandy Creek went 80 yards in five plays on the first possession of the game, Neal scoring on a 30-yard run with 10:36 left in the first quarter. Clarke Central's defense stiffened, however, and the Gladiators trailed just 7-6 at halftime after the Patriots had the ball for only five plays in the second quarter.

Erickson had a 44-yard field goal attempt blocked by Cedric Byrd early in the second quarter, but then was true from 30 and 25 yards. The first came with 1:38 left in the half and the second with 7 seconds remaining after Jordan Pierce had caused and recovered Neal's fumble on the kickoff return.

Clarke Central drove from its 8-yard line to the Sandy Creek 19 after the second-half kickoff and Erickson put the Gladiators ahead for the first time with a 26-yard field goal with 5:45 remaining in the third quarter.

The Gladiators were playing in their eighth state championship game. They have won three titles, but the last was in 1985.