Greater Atlanta Christian had a tough time putting away Peach County in Fort Valley. Cedar Grove cruised past Crisp County in Cordele.
If anything was learned Friday night in the Class AAA high school football semifinals, it was this: The stage is set for what should be a memorable championship game at 1 p.m. Friday , when top-ranked GAC lines up against No. 6 Cedar Grove in the Georgia Dome.
GAC defeated Peach County 13-7 to move move to the championship game after losing to Pace Academy in the Class AA semifinals last season. It was the lowest scoring game for the Trojans since a 3-2 loss to Jackson on Oct. 16, 2015. Davis Mills scored the Spartans' only touchdown on a 2-yard run. Mills, who passed to five receivers all night, finished 16-of-27 for 216 yards. Junior Max Burke led all receivers with 134 yards on six receptions.
When the offense sputtered -- and it did at times (once botching a snap from center on fourth-and-1 from the 2) -- the defense took control of the game. As Mills said afterward, that's what good teams do.
"We played great, I mean great, team defense," said GAC coach Tim Hardy. "Our coaches had a great plan, and we were very, very well-prepared. We just played with more heart and grit than we've had. We are just excited, man. We are excited for the next round, going up there and looking forward to what's next."
Cedar Grove demolished unbeaten No. 5 Crisp County 55-0 at the Cougar Den in Cordele. It was over early. The Saints overpowered the Cougars on both sides of the ball and led 21-0 after the first quarter, 41-0 at halftime. That's the way the Saints have rolled through the brackets since the start of the playoffs. Cedar Grove might be playing some of the best football in the state.
"We played well ... pretty good," said Cedar Grove coach Jimmy Smith. "It's good that the boys learned from last year."
Cedar Grove's loss Westminster in last season's semifinals was a bitter pill to swallow. Now, it has reached its first championship game since 1991, when it lost to Cartersville.
"I think (Crisp) hurt themselves early in the game," Smith said. "They had a few miscues, and we jumped out early, 21-0, and just went from there."