WAYNESBORO, Ga. — Corey Mayton wasn’t going to let an initial stop at the 1-yard line keep him from scoring and his team from advancing.
The Burke County quarterback’s second effort provided the game-winning score and the defense made late stops as the Bears beat Allatoona, 32-28, in a wild Class AAA state quarterfinal game Friday night. With the win, Burke County is in the semifinals for the second consecutive season.
The Bears will play Gainesville, which beat defending state champion Sandy Creek 35-21 on Friday.
“I had to get in,” Mayton said. “It was just determination to get into the end zone.”
The Bears led most of the game, taking advantage of miscues and an edge in special teams to lead 14-0 and 25-14.
However, even with 2,000-yard rusher Miles Jones leaving the game with a head injury, Allatoona fought back.
Jones, who did have a 50-yard touchdown rush and finished with 108 yards, got help from T.J. Herron and Robert Johnson.
The other two backs combined for 124 yards, with most coming in the second half. Herron had two rushing scores, giving the Buccaneers a 28-25 lead with 7:14 to go.
But for the second time in the second half, Burke County put together a touchdown drive all on the ground. The first traveled 74 yards while the second went 69 yards.
Donquell Green, Montres Kitchens and Mayton helped the Bears (12-1) rush for 220 yards. In the first half, the Bears’ special teams and a big turnover did the job.
Besides pinning Allatoona (12-1) at its 1-yard line, Burke County also took over at the Allatoona 1 on a muffed punt and scored the next play on a Mayton keeper.
Then, after a long Allatoona pass set up a Jones rushing score, Burke County showed punt but had Mayton throw to Kitchens for a 33-yard gain.
It was the most successful yard gainer in the first half for Burke County, who was led by Mayton’s 146 total yards on the night.
When the quarterback scored for the third time, the Bears went ahead for good, and the defense put on pressure to force a turnover on downs and then made a stop on the game’s final play.
“That’s just playoff football,” Buccaneers coach Gary Varner said. “I believe either one can go all the way to the end.”