High School Sports

Gray, Washington County run past Pierce County

SANDERSVILLE -- Washington County’s A.J. Gray ranked his performance as the best of his life Friday night.

But Gray still wants more.

Gray logged a career night on the ground as Washington County beat Pierce County 62-35 in the quarterfinals of the GHSA Class AAA playoffs.

The star senior quarterback, who entered already a candidate for state player of the year, let his legs do the talking as he recorded 442 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association, the yardage ranks fifth all time in a single game in Georgia. The touchdown total is tied for second most ever.

For Gray, it’s just another stepping stone.

“It ranks at the top,” Gray said. “I’m just going to try to do better next game. I have a great offensive line, and I like how they handle blocking for me. I appreciate that.”

A coin flip will determine who plays host between the Golden Hawks and Blessed Trinity.

The game was close through the first half, with Washington County leading 28-13 at the break. Pierce County even led at one point in the first quarter, but two long touchdown runs by Gray in the second gave the Golden Hawks breathing room.

Gray ran for two touchdowns each in the third and fourth quarters to keep them comfortably ahead.

Gray’s eight rushing touchdowns totaled 400 yards, including a 1-yard score. Four of the eight were more than 50 yards.

When the Golden Hawks needed to respond to a Pierce County touchdown to maintain their lead, they simply opened a hole for Gray.

“You give him a crease, and he can make you look really good,” Washington County coach Joel Ingram said. “What a performance. I’ve said all along he’s the best player in the state.”

Pierce County’s passing game proved tough early, but Washington County made defensive plays to contain the attack, including four interceptions.

The Bears’ Stetson Bennett threw for 272 yards, and they had two rushers total more than 100 yards each, but they totaled five turnovers and failed to convert important fourth-down plays early.