It’s time to hit the road.
Burke County lost Saturday morning’s coin toss, meaning the Bears must travel to Gainesville for the Class AAA state semifinals. Burke County won a coin toss a week ago for the Allatoona game.
The Bears and Red Elephants are both 12-1, with Burke County losing to Class AAAAA Lowndes by 10 points and Gainesville falling to Class AA Buford, 49-0, the first game of the season.
The Red Elephants earned their biggest win of the season on Friday, ending Sandy Creek’s 41-game winning streak with a 35-21 victory. Quarterback Deshaun Watson accounted for five touchdowns and put up more than 300 yards of offense.
“They’re a wide-open spread attack,” Bears coach Eric Parker said. “They have an all-world sophomore quarterback. He’s been doing it pretty much all year.”
CLUTCH SCORE: It was the drive needed to save the season, and one the Bears had no doubts about how it would end.
Trailing 28-25 with about seven minutes to play, Burke County went 69 yards on 10 plays – everything on the ground.
“That’s probably the senior leadership being pretty evident,” Parker said. “They never got a sense of panic on the sideline. We had plenty of time left. I remember the offensive line taking the field, hollering at each other, ‘Lets go.’ ”
The Bears picked up three first downs on the drive, with Donquell Green, Montres Kitchens and Corey Mayton handling all running responsibilities on the drive.
The longest run came on a 32-yarder from Green..
The possession almost stalled before the end zone, but Mayton fought with second effort on fourth down for a 1-yard touchdown run.
MEMORABLE RUN: The atmosphere for the Aquinas-Landmark Christian playoff game was electric Friday night. An overflow crowd showed up as the Irish played host to their biggest football game in school history.
The only disappointment was the final score. The War Eagles scored a touchdown with 13 seconds left to sneak out of town with a 28-21 victory.
Aquinas coach Matt LeZotte was disappointed for his team after the game, but he marveled at how far the Irish have come in a short time.
“We’ve got a solid team, great leadership,” LeZotte said. “It’s a great senior class, and it’s a tough farewell for those guys. But what a night for football, what an atmosphere that they have created.”
Brendan Douglas will be back next season for his senior year, and the versatile running back/linebacker/punter will once again be the nucleus for a strong Irish squad.
LeZotte said he takes away “nothing but positives” after the loss.
“I think we’re the only ones who would have believed we would have made it this far,” he said. “We made a march there. I’m really proud of their effort. I guarantee it hurts me as much as it hurts those guys.”