NORCROSS -- Greater Atlanta Christian was hit in the mouth early with a rough, physical first half.
Then things got a little more exciting.
The Spartans scored 34 unanswered points in the second half of Friday’s second-round Class AA state playoff game against Lamar County, shrugging off a six-point halftime deficit to cruise past the Trojans 48-20.
Micah Abernathy and Jaelen Venable each rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the second half, as top-ranked GAC erased early shortcomings stemming from a Lamar County power run game that seemingly overwhelmed the Spartans early in the evening.
“(Lamar County) did some really good things,” GAC head coach Tim Hardy said. “They came in with a good plan, and we just needed to adjust. Our guys got their feet underneath them.”
The Trojans rushed for 228 yards in the first half, including 211 by junior running back Juan Tucker, using long, grinding drives to keep GAC’s explosive offense off the field. The Spartans only had three possessions in the first half and needed to score on two of them just to keep the score tight.
But Lamar County simply couldn’t maintain the workload.
Darius Slayton put GAC back in front with a bobbled 52-yard touchdown catch on the opening drive of the second half, and Josh Pickens jumped on a loose ball on the ensuing Lamar County possession that turned into a 17-yard score by Venable and an eight-point Spartans lead.
From there, the rout was on. Abernathy punched in his second of three touchdowns of the night early in the third quarter, Venable added another on a 36-yard carry and Abernathy made it a hat trick in the final minute of the game.
GAC (12-0) advances to the third round to face second-ranked Vidalia, which is also unbeaten. A coin flip will determine the host
“To be the best team, you have to beat really good teams,” Hardy said. “We’re excited about the challenge of playing Vidalia, there’s no doubt. Coming off (Friday), this was a good night for us and the life and development of our football team.