Sandy Creek's Eric Swinney (24) tries to move around Ridgeland's Trey Stubbs (17) with help from the Patriots' Kyle Wilson (16) during the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA state football championships game at the Georgia Dome, Saturday.
ATLANTA — Bryant Shirreffs gained 310 total yards and rushed for three touchdowns to lead Jefferson to its first state title with a 31-14 victory over Calhoun in the Class AA championship game Saturday.
Shirreffs, who was of 12 of 18 passing for 171 yards, carried 24 times for 139 and scored on runs of runs of 2, 1 and 1 yards as Jefferson won its 14th consecutive game after an opening loss to Commerce.
The victory snapped a 29-game winning streak by Calhoun, which was trying for a second consecutive 15-0 season after beating Buford 27-24 in overtime last year for the Class AA championship.
Calhoun’s Taylor Lamb completed 26 of 39 passes for 279 yards, connecting with Tydus Curtis for a 75-yard TD and hitting Logan Walraven from 17 yards out.
Jefferson’s only previous trips to the championship game came in 1975 and 1977, while Calhoun was playing for a title for the fifth consecutive year. The Yellow Jackets lost three straight times to Buford before winning last year.
Calhoun cut Jefferson’s lead to a touchdown when Lamb hit Curtis deep midway in the third quarter on the first play after Carter Edwards intercepted Shirreffs’ pass at the 25-yard line. Curtis had six catches for 134 yards.
But Lamb was picked off by Micah Carpenter right after a Jefferson fumble and Shirreffs scored from a yard out late in the third quarter to put the Dragons up by two touchdowns again.
Chandler Schlutow’s 36-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter padded the lead.
It was the second state championship for Jefferson’s T. McFerrin. The veteran coach won a Class AA title at Elbert County in 1995.
Jefferson led 21-7 at halftime and Calhoun’s touchdown was set up by a Dragons turnover.
Tristen Jackson, who finished with 85 yards on 18 carries, scored from the 1-yard line to cap a 14-play, 74-yard drive following the opening kickoff. But Calhoun’s Tristan Fuller recovered a Jefferson fumble at the Dragons’ 29 and Lamb hit Walraven for a 17-yard TD with 29 seconds left in the first quarter to tie the game.
The second quarter belonged to Jefferson. Shirreffs capped a 70-yard drive with a 2-yard run and the Dragons then went 86 yards after stopping Calhoun on fourth down. Shirreffs passed Jefferson down the field and scored on a sneak from a yard out.
Sandy Creek rips Ridgeland, 45-10 to win Class AAAA
ATLANTA — Cole Garvin threw for 249 yards, Delvin Weems and Eric Swinney each had two touchdowns and unbeaten Sandy Creek won its third state championship in four years with a 45-10 rout of Ridgeland in the Class AAAA title game Saturday night.
Garvin, who didn’t play in the fourth quarter, was 13-of-18 passing, including a 37-yard TD pass to Kyle Williams. Weems rushed for 96 yards on 10 carries, scoring on runs of 30 and 11 yards. Swinney’s TDs included a 6-yarder and a 1-yarder.
Sandy Creek (15-0) won state titles in 2009 and 2010 before losing in the quarterfinals last year. The Patriots are 67-3 since the start of the 2008 season under coach Chip Walker.
Ridgeland (13-2) trailed 38-0 before Evan Courtney kicked a 29-yard field goal with 1:54 left in the third quarter. The Panthers’ touchdown came on a 38-yard halfback pass from Darrell Bridges to Vonn Bell with 2:52 left in the game.
Sandy Creek scored on five of its six first-half possessions in building a 31-0 halftime lead. Swinney and Weems had their touchdown runs and Mitchell McMillan kicked a 36-yard field goal as the Patriots amassed a 281-108 advantage in yardage.
Sandy Creek needed just 81 seconds for its first TD, with Swinney scoring from the 6-yard line after Garvin had put the Patriots in position with a 45-yard pass to Kyle Wilson. Then Weems broke off his 30-yard TD run as Sandy Creek marched down the field after stopping Ridgeland on downs at the 22.
Up 14-0, the Patriots broke the game wide open as they followed McMillan’s field goal with two touchdowns in 89 seconds just before halftime. Weems had an 11-yard TD after a 50-yard punt return by Demarre Kitt and Swinney scored from a yard out after a 39-yard pass from Garvin to Kitt.
Garvin, who was 9-of-12 passing for 161 yards in the first half, connected with Williams to make it 38-0 midway in the third quarter. Back-up Trey Walker played the fourth quarter and threw a 21-yard TD pass to Justin Sumpter.
Ridgeland, opened in 1989, was making its first appearance in a championship game.
ECI trounces Dooly County 47-7 for public A title
ATLANTA — Greg Purcell gained 142 yards on 25 carries, running 50 yards on one of his three touchdowns, as Emanuel County Institute won the Class A public school state championship with a 47-7 rout of Dooly County on Saturday.
James Brown had a 26-yard touchdown run, caught a pass for a 53-yard score and returned an interception 48 yards to set up a touchdown for ECI, which also won a state title in 2007. Brown carried 14 times for 135 yards.
The victory was the 12th straight for ECI (13-1) and the margin was the largest in a state championship game since Buford defeated Lovett 50-0 for the Class AA title in 2007. The Bulldogs’ only loss was to Class AAA Washington County in the second week of the season.
Dooly County (11-3) had a six-game winning streak snapped. The Bobcats scored on a second-quarter 19-yard run by Chanin Hamilton.
Class A was split into private and public divisions by the GHSA for the first time this year after rural public schools, mostly in the southern part of the state, complained about the perceived competitive advantage of private schools in more populated areas.
Eagle’s Landing Christian (13-1) routed Prince Avenue Christian 33-0 on Friday to win the Class A private school title.
Brown’s interception and return of a long pass by A.J. Adams on Dooly’s first play set up Purcell for a 1-yard score. Then Purcell, who had 118 yards on 17 carries in the first half, made it 14-0 with his 50-yard TD run late in the first quarter.
Hamilton’s touchdown run early in the second quarter got Dooly on the scoreboard, but Brown gave ECI a 20-7 halftime lead with a 26-yard TD midway through the quarter.
The Bulldogs drove 85 yards in 11 plays the first time they got the ball in the third quarter, going up 28-7 on Caleb Pressey’s 3-yard run and a two-point conversion by Renaldo Williams. Then Pressey’s short pass was turned into a 53-yard score by Brown on ECI’s next play, and it would soon get worse for Dooly.
The Bobcats fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Purcell scored on a 6-yard run to make it 40-7 late in the third quarter. ECI’s fourth-quarter TD came on a 2-yard run by Michael Sutton.
Dooly, opened in 1981 with the consolidation of Vienna and Unadilla high schools, also lost state championship games in 1983 and 2002.