Grayson, Warner Robins, and Pierce County returned home champs Wednesday after closing out the last day of the GHSA State Football Championships in Atlanta.
Oconee County 7 – Pierce County 13
Recap: Pierce County sophomore running back D.J. Bell took a direct snap from center and scored on a 15-yeard run, eluding two diving defenders as he broke toward the sideline, clinching a state championship in overtime, which lasted only two plays. On Oconee County’s possession, Daytin Baker intercepted a pass over the middle. It was Baker’s second interception. Neither team scored or even advanced beyond the opponent’s 36-yard line until the fourth quarter. Oconee broke through first, driving 41 yards for a touchdown after a short Pierce punt. Jacob Wright’s 27-yard pass to Darius Johnson to the 14, Oconee’s longest play of the game, set up the score. Pierce got even on a seven-play, 80-yard drive. Jermaine Brewton’s 45-yard pass to Zay Plummer on third-and-13 was the crucial play. Bell, who rushed for 113 of his 158 yards after halftime, scored the tying touchdown. He finished with 208 all-purpose yards. Allen Boatright had an interception and a sack. Harrison Padgett stood out for Oconee with 2.5 tackles for losses.
History: Pierce County (13-1) won its first state title. The southeast Georgia school opened in 1981 as a merger of Blackshear and Patterson high schools, and football had been played in the county without a championship since 1919 when Blackshear High played its first recorded game. The overtime was the 10th in GHSA finals history, or since ties were abolished in 2007. It was the second in two days as Buford beat Lee County with an extra period in 6A on Tuesday. Oconee County (12-1) was denied its first state title since 1999 and lost in the finals for the second straight season. Oconee had been among three undefeated GHSA teams. Only Marist and Grayson remain.
Cartersville 28 – Warner Robins 62
Recap: Warner Robins put up 601 yards of total offense and tied a 49-year-old state record for points in a GHSA championship game with 62. The Demons scored touchdowns on nine of their first 10 possessions, failing only when they intercepted a pass with 5 seconds left in the first half and took a knee. Cartersville returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and led 14-7 after one quarter but couldn’t keep pace as Warner Robins scored on drives of 92, 84, 34, 74 and 72 yards in the first half. The 34-yard drive came after an interception by Montrez Dinkins. The Demons’ other scoring drives went 84, 61, 69 and 28 yards. Warner Robins all-state quarterback Jalen Addie was nearly flawless, completing 16 of 18 pass attempts for 259 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 143 yards.
History: Warner Robins (13-1) won its first state title since 2004, fifth in history. The 62 points were the most in a championship game since Valdosta beat Avondale 62-12 in 1971. Warner Robins finished the season with three 1,000-yard rushers – Jalen Addie (1,056), Jahlen Rutherford (1,173) and Malcolm Brown (1,102), all unofficial. Cartersville came up short in its bid for its fifth state title, first since 2016.
Collins Hill 14 – Grayson 38
Recap: Grayson scored touchdowns on five of its seven first-half possessions, racing to a 35-0 lead. Jayvian Allen, Grayson’s strong safety and leading tackler but rarely used on offense, scored three touchdowns out of the wildcat format in the first half. His 13-yard run on fourth-and-two with 1:40 left in the first quarter was a turning point, if there was one. Joseph Taylor and Sean Downer, who played lesser roles in the regular season, together rushed for 213 yards on 31 carries as they ably replaced Clemson signee Phil Mafah, lost to injury at the end of the regular season. Held to three first downs in the first half, Collins Hill was competitive in the second, with Sam Horn throwing his 40th and 41st touchdown passes of the season.
History: Grayson (14-0) won its third state championship in 10 seasons, first since 2016. Adam Carter, in his second season, became the third Grayson coach to win a title, after Mickey Conn and Jeff Herron. Grayson became the first unbeaten champion in the highest class since Colquitt County in 2015 and the most dominant in the playoffs – winning by an average of 30.4 points – since Lowndes in 2005. Grayson clinched top-five national finishes as the Rams entered the game ranked No. 3 by MaxPreps, No. 4 by High School America and No. 5 in USA Today. Collins Hill lost in its first trip to the finals and finished 12-3. Collins Hill WR/CB Travis Hunter finished with 146 receptions for 1,739 yards unofficially.