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Burke County crushes Gainesville to reach Class AAA state final

Burke County 63, Gainesville 28

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. — The pain and frustration from a year ago are now long gone in both time and mind, with its own chants of “We’re going to the Dome!” instead echoing in the stadium.

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Burke County's Orlando Howard leaps over a teammate to gain some yardage during the first half Friday.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Burke County's Orlando Howard leaps over a teammate to gain some yardage during the first half Friday.

With its dominating rushing attack, Burke County piled up the points and yards to beat Gainesville, 63-28, on Friday night in the semifinals of the Georgia High School Association Class AAA state playoffs. After losing at Carrollton in the 2010 state semifinals, the Bears rolled and will play Peach County at the Georgia Dome in the state final.

Burke County (13-1) rushed for nearly 550 yards in the game – almost 350 yards in the first half – as four players had at least 70 yards on the ground.

“You could drive one of our buses through there,” Burke County quarterback Corey Mayton said of the offensive line.

With Donquell Green and Montres Kitchens finding room to the outside and inside, Orlando Howard also finding space and Mayton bouncing off would-be tacklers, the Region 3-AAA champions spun, side-stepped and sped by an overwhelmed Red Elephants defense.

The Bears ran for touchdowns on five consecutive possessions in the first half to lead 41-21.

Thanks to the offensive line, Kitchens, Green and Mayton led the charge, with all three rushing for more than 100 yards as the Bears powered their way to 20 first-half first downs.

“We went up and down the field,” Kitchens said.

But it was Green’s speed that got the Bears started, as he answered Gainesville quarterback’s Dashaun Watson’s 83-yard rushing score on the first offensive play of the game.

Green returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for the touchdown.

Watson, who led Gaines­ville to a win against two-time defending state champion Sandy Creek a week ago, accounted for 443 yards. But the Red Elephants (12-2), trying to keep pace with the onslaught, usually came up empty on plays downfield, got stopped on fourth down attempts and also punted as the deficit grew.

In fact, Burke County scored on eight possessions in a row, not counting a knee to end the first half.

The Bears added to their lead in the third, with Kitchens’ 55-yard burst the final Burke County touchdown of the night.

“I can promise you, they’re not satisfied,” Burke County coach Eric Parker said.

BURKE CO. 63, GAINESVILLE 28

PLAY OF THE GAME: His team down 7-0, Burke County’s Donquell Green returned the kickoff 90 yards for a TD as the Bears were on their way to 41 first-half points.

STARS OF THE GAME: The offensive line created space for anyone who touched the ball as the Bears rushed for almost 550 yards.

WHY BURKE COUNTY WON: The running game couldn’t be stopped and the defense made important stops.

WHY GAINESVILLE LOST: Burke County controlled the line of scrimmage.

NEXT: Burke County vs. Peach County at the Georgia Dome in the Class AAA state championship game, 4 p.m. Dec. 10.


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