Fort Valley -- The Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans advanced to the state championship game after defeating No. 2 Peach County 13-7 Friday night at Anderson Field in Fort Valley.
Top-ranked GAC got a 2-yard touchdown run from quarterback Davis Mills and two field goals from Brooks Buce to take a 13-0 lead, then held on in the final minutes for the victory.
GAC will face Cedar Grove, which steamrolled unbeaten Crisp County 55-0 in Cordele, in the Class AAA title game next Friday in the Georgia Dome. GAC lost to Pace Academy in the Class AA finals last season. Cedar Grove also reached the semifinals, losing to Westminster.
"On defense we had eleven guys playing with great toughness and making plays," said GAC coach Tim Hardy. "It is tremendous. Any championship team is going to win high-scoring games, low-scoring games, close games. We played fantastic championship defense here tonight and shut them down. On defense, I don't think we have many superstars, but we have eleven guys who can just play."
The Spartans' first scoring drive started at their own 41-yard line and was highlighted by a 35-yard pass from Mills to Kyler McMichael, which set up Buce's 25-yard field goal to put GAC ahead 3-0. GAC's next scoring drive was led by Max Burke, who caught passes of 30 and 15 yards from Mills to set up a Mills' 2-yard run that gave the Spartans a 10-0 halftime lead.
Peach drove deep into GAC territory on two occasions, but came away empty. Place-kicker Mitchell Fineran missed a 42-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter after the Trojans had driven 53 yards. He missed a 37-yarder on the last play of the half, after Peach had driven from its own 20.
The Spartans held Peach to a three-and-out with 10:15 left in the game and took over at their own 33-yard line after the Trojans punted. Mills completed a 15-yard pass to Jeff Blake and a 10-yard pass to Harrison Sloane, but the offense stalled at the Peach 16, which set up Buce's 33-yard field goal to increase the lead to 13-0 with 6:58 remaining.
Peach responded with an 80-yard scoring drive, Antonio Gilbert passing 15 yards to Devontae Howard for the touchdown with 1:27 remaining in the game. GAC recovered an onside kick, then punted to the Peach 33 with 11 seconds remaining. Gilbert's desperation pass was intercepted.
"It was just a great team win," said Mills, the top-rated quarterback in the state who has committed to Stanford. "We struggled a little bit on offense tonight, but our defense made up for it. That's what championship teams do. They have an offense and a defense working a high levels, and we are just ready for next week."
Mills finished the game 16-of-27 passing for 219 yards.