Kevin Kinsler said last week he didn’t pay attention to things like records on coin flips.
But he knew he was 0-for-2.
That changed Saturday morning when the coin went the way Northside’s head coach called it, and the Eagles will be at home, or near home, when they take on Allatoona on Friday in a GHSA Class AAAAA semifinal.
Northside topped Glynn Academy 31-7 on Friday at Peach County, the location used after Kinsler chose to play away from McConnell-Talbert Stadium because of its torn-up turf. Northside and Houston County had second-round games on consecutive days a week earlier on the already tough natural surface, and rain during Houston County’s game further damaged the field.
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After Saturday’s coin flip in McDonough, Kinsler went back home and took a look at McConnell-Talbert and said it still was in pretty bad shape.Early Saturday afternoon, Kinsler said he planned to contact Mercer to inquire about the possibility of playing there Friday, and that the site will either be Peach County again or Mercer.
As of Saturday evening, attempts to reach Kinsler for an update were unsuccessful.
Nevertheless, he was obviously thrilled with how things went in Fort Valley, before and during the game.
“Chad and them did a phenomenal job,” Kinsler said of Peach County head coach Chad Campbell. “Everything just went like clockwork. Our people and their people working together, everything went off without a hitch and I’m just really thankful about that.
“All we needed to be worried about was the game.”
The semifinal will be the be the first time Northside and Allatoona, a 24-17 winner over Gainesville, have met.
Fitzgerald also had a good morning, winning its coin toss. Now, the 12-1 Purple Hurricane get to stay home against Greater Atlanta Christian for a Class AA semifinal.
Washington County and Blessed Trinity will flip Sunday morning for Class AAA semifinal hosting rights. — Michael A. Lough
LENGTHY THRILLER IN ATLANTA
Mays’ 44-41 victory over Jones County in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals at Lakewood Stadium took more than three hours to complete. And while Jones County fans left disappointed, the ending was a spectacle that will be remembered for awhile by both teams.
The game was decided on the final play, when Mays senior Asahnia Aderhold found fellow senior Julius Whitehead open in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown pass with no time on the clock after Aderhold escaped the grasp of two Jones County defenders. It was the culmination of a back-and-forth contest that saw many momentum swings that came about because of miscues.
“We had him wrapped up, but we couldn’t get him to the ground,” Jones County head coach Justin Rogers said. “The kid made a play. That’s the game of football; it’s about players making plays. They made a play, we didn’t, and they won it.”
Mays had four fumbles — two recovered by Jones County — to go along with an interception and a pair of bad punt snaps, including one with 2:23 to go that set up the Greyhounds for a touchdown that put Jones County up 41-38.
But Jones County had a couple of big miscues of its own in the second half, including a third-quarter interception in Mays territory and a fourth-quarter missed field goal from well inside of place-kicker Wade Carr’s range that came about on a bobbled hold.
Jones County also allowed a 77-yard kickoff return and a 40-yard touchdown run out of a fake punt in the first half, as well as a 49-yard touchdown pass as time expired going into halftime.
Then there was the final drive by Mays, one in which the Raiders had to make a play on a fourth-and-22 situation from their own 33 following a hold 5 yards in the backfield on first down.
Deparis Carter, who scored on the kickoff return in the first half, picked up the yardage Mays needed on a pass from Aderhold, and the drive to the end zone was on.
“One play doesn’t define us,” Rogers said. “We gave up a dang kickoff return, we gave up the punt thing. We gave up two on special teams. That’s the whole thing. We had a pick on a short field. One play didn’t define this. It just happened to be at the end, that play happened. But there were a multitude of plays through the game that led to the outcome.”— Ron Seibel
MORE ON JONES COUNTY-MAYS
Aderhold and Jones County quarterback Bradley Hunnicutt combined for 600 passing yards. Aderhold completed 25-of-42 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns, while Hunnicutt went 19-of-28 for 234 yards.
For as many times as Jones County threw the ball, the Greyhounds did not score through the passing game. Four of Jones County’s five touchdowns came while the Greyhounds were lined up in their jumbo set, one in which Davin Price went in at center and Terrell Solomon lined up in the backfield.
Price and Solomon each had two touchdowns. Chandler Ramage had Jones County’s other touchdown, a 7-yard run out of the Greyhounds’ spread formation.
The big receivers Friday: Tyshawn Brown, who caught eight passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns for Mays, and Nick Singleton, who caught 10 passes for 128 yards for Jones County.
— Ron Seibel
BAD PUNT, GREAT PLAY
From the start of players’ careers, they’re taught to play to the whistle.
Sometimes, however, maybe they see what they think is the end of a play and hear a whistle that was never blown.
That’s one explanation for the rare — and huge — play late in the second half of Houston County’s 42-22 Class AAAAA quarterfinal loss at Stockbridge.
Jairius Shade stood inside his 20 to punt for Stockbridge on fourth-and-14, the Tigers having just lost 6 yards when Jacob Gates and Bennie Steadman combined for a sack.
A Houston County player barely missed blocking the kick, which went off the side of Shade’s foot and traveled only a few yards.
And there the ball sat while players pretty much thought the play was dead. Stockbridge’s Jajuan Jackson picked it up nonchalantly — as the Bears headed toward their sideline — and then was encouraged to run.
He did, and scored 73 yards later, leaving both sides confused about the rule, which was properly enforced.
The National Federation of High Schools operates with mostly the same rules as the NCAA, and the NCAA rulebook states, “A ball loose on an unblocked punt that does not cross the line of scrimmage can be advanced by either team.”
Shade gets a minus-7 on the punt, and Jackson 73 yards on a rush.
The main advantage might have been simply the sideline closest to the ball, giving that team’s coaches a chance to realize the rule and yell at a player to pick it up.
So stunning — and rare — was the situation, that nobody saw — as a replay on the NFHS Network showed — a Stockbridge player go onto the field from the sidelines just before Jackson took off, which gave the Tigers 12 men on the field.
The touchdown came with 41 seconds left in the half.
— Michael A. Lough
Had someone said Houston County would score the first 20 points of the game and then be outscored 42-2 after that, few would have bought into that statement. But that’s what happened Friday night.
Houston County had two three-play possessions in the first half that were countered by three touchdowns. Stockbridge lost two fumbles and punted twice in the first half, to go with a touchdown drive and the now-legendary punt play.
The Bears opened the second half with two straight three-and-outs, then six plays and a punt. The Tigers were picked off once amid three scoring possessions.
Houston County had only five first downs in the second half to nine for Stockbridge.
The Tigers added a touchdown with 25 seconds left for the most points against the Bears since Northside’s 45-10 win on Oct. 4, 2013.
— Michael A. Lough