The five-game Georgia Elite Classic at Rome’s Barron Stadium took center stage in the high school football world in state Friday.
See the game-by-game recaps below.
Freshman 31, Sophomores 30 (full stats)
Max Brown, the Gatorade Defensive Player of the Game, lived up to the award to lead the Freshman team to its first-ever victory over the higher-classed Sophomores in the final game of the 11th annual Georgia Elite Classic at Rome’s Barron Stadium.
The Freshman were nursing a 31-30 lead after a touchdown pass from Sophomore Cass quarterback Brodie McWhorter to Cambridge receiver Craig Dandridge as time expired. Without overtime to rely on, the Sophomores were forced to go for two points and the win.
Brown, a linebacker from Jefferson, stopped the rush on the right side of the line to secure the first-ever victory in one of the most closely contested games in the 11-year history of the classic,
“What a game,” said announcer Rusty Mansell said to Matt Stewart on the Peachtree Sports Network broadcast. “It took every play, my man.”
Prince Avenue quarterback Ben Musser had a career performance to lead the Freshmen to victory. Musser, who finished 7-of-10 passing for 176 yards and two touchdowns while rushing four times for two touchdowns, scored on a 2-yard run with 9:21 left in the first quarter to cap a 7-play, 70-yard drive after the extra-point from Jefferson’s Joey Black.
The Sophomores tied the game on a 5-yard run from Sequoyah back Will Rajecki with 2:17 left in the first quarter. A 23-yard run from Carrollton back Kimauri Farmer put the elder classmen ahead 14-7 after an Alex Brock (Cedar Grove) extra-point. With 8:01 left in the first half, Musser passed to Athens Academy’s Keyon Standifer on a 35-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14.
Brock gave the Sophomores the lead on a 30-yard field goal at the end of the first half to give the Sophomores the 17-14 lead. Musser scored his second rushing touchdown on a 29-yard scamper with 10:27 left in the third quarter to put the freshman up 21-17.
McWhorter’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Prince Avenue receiver CJ Dockery retook the lead for the Sophomores with 6:16 left in the game. The Freshman responded with a 61-yard touchdown pass from Musser to Lincoln County’s Andrew Beard to retake the lead for good for the youngsters. Black kicked a 28-yard field goal with 55 seconds left to extend the lead to 31-24.
Beard had three receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown while Standifer caught two passes for 35 yards and a touchdown for the Freshman. Brown had nine tackles, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble. St. Francis safety Keon Clealand had two solo tackles but made a key interception which he returned 21 yards. Two-way athlete Standifer had one tackle but five pass breakups. For the Sophomores, McWhorter was 9-of-22 passing for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Farmer had seven carries for 78 yards and a touchdown while Campbell back Ashton Gochett had seven carries for 70 yards. Dandridge made three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown while Dockery had three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. North Hall safety Walker Davis made six tackles and one forced fumble to lead the Sophomores.
Junior Blue 21, Junior Gold 17 (full stats)
The Blue Team trailed for just three minutes in the first quarter before taking control in the penultimate game of the Georgia Elite Classic at Rome’s historic Barron Stadium. The Gold Team mounted a charge in the waning minutes but fell short of a comeback.
Hillgrove kicker Cody Cowan converted a 38-yard field goal with 7:50 left in the first quarter to put the Gold Team up. With 3:45 left in the first quarter, East Paulding quarterback Chantz Bouknight passed to Mount Vernon’s Walker Warshaw on an 11-yard touchdown which capped an 11-play, 70-yard drive in 4:05 to give the Blue Team a lead it would not relinquish.
The Blue Team went up 14-3 with 4:08 in the second quarter on a 2-yard run from East Pauding running back Javen Parker which capped a 13-play, 72-yard drive in 6:22. The Gold Team cut into the lead on a 3-yard run from Lambert back Tommy LaFayette to end a 7-play, 67-yard drive in 4:16.
The Blue Team expanded the lead on a 70-yard run from Adairsville back Jamarian Pullum on a 1-play drive with 5:06 left in the third quarter. The Gold Team scored on a 14-yard pass from Bethlehem’s Brooks Brien to North Atlanta’s Grant Thompson with 1:37 left in the game but it was out of reach.
Pullum had four carries for 88 yards and a touchdown and Parker made nine carries for 42 yards and a touchdown to lead the Blue Team on the ground. Bouknight was 4-of-8 passing for 43 yards and a touchdown, Dalton quarterback Ethan Long was 5-of-8 passing for 28 yards and Darlington quarterback Luke Parker was 4-of-5 passing for 32 yards.
On defense for the Blue Team, Harrison lineman Christian Smith had six tackles, two tackles for loss and two sacks for 11 yards. Cedartown defensive back Tae Harris made five tackles with one tackle for loss. Cherokee Bluff’s Kaden Thompson had three tackles, one for a loss and one interception returned 28 yards.
LaFayette had 13 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown to lead the Gold Team on the ground. Brien was a standout 7-of-12 passing for 124 yards and a touchdown. Thompson made three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown while Chattahoochee’s DJ Avery had five receptions for 99 yards and North Gwinnett receiver Erik Ronning made four catches for 62 yards. On defense for the Gold Team, Cedar Grove lineman Javon Beckford had five tackles and Troup lineman Amarius Perdue had four tackles with one tackle for loss and one sack with a forced fumble.
Senior Blue 14, Senior Gold 0 (full stats)
Two touchdown runs – one in the first quarter and one in the third quarter – proved decisive for the Blue Team as it moved past the Gold Team in the third game of the day at the Georgia Elite Classic at Rome’s historic Barron Stadium.
Ola quarterback Jake Holmes scored on a 2-yard run to cap a 12-play, 79-yard drive and a kick from Prince Avenue’s Tyler Denny gave the Blue Team a 7-0 lead. In the third quarter with 5:49 remaining, Westminster running back Fain Barton scored on an 11-yard run to cap a 3-play, 14-yard drive and Denny’s kick brought the score to its final tally.
Barton had seven carries for 44 yards and a touchdown and Holes made three carries for two yards and a touchdown to lead the Blue Team. Brookwood quarterback Rodge Waldrop was 8-of-13 passing for 61 yards and Holmes was 1-of-5 passing for 13 yards.
On defense, the Blue Team was led by Carver-Atlanta defensive lineman Jamontez Hines, who had eight tackles and seven tackles for a loss with seven sacks for 26 yards with two forced fumbles. Alpharetta linebacker Collin Kungu had six tackles and two tackles for loss with two sacks. Newnan defensive tackle Zy’Kerion Tucker had six tackles with five tackles for a loss and three sacks. Alpharetta defensive lineman Ryan Fletcher had five tackles with four tackles for loss and four sacks for 12 yards. For the Gold Team, Roswell quarterback KJ Smith was 9—of-21 passing for 111 yards and Washington County quarterback Cam Beasley was 5-of-11 passing for 68 yards. Smith made 11 carries for 39 yards. Coffee running back Fred Brown had 11 carries for 52 yards.
7th Grade Gold 14, 7th Grade Blue 13 (full stats)
A missed extra-point attempt with 10:19 left in the game proved the difference as the 7th Grade Gold team moved past the 7th Grade Blue team in the opening game of the 11th annual Georgia Elite Classic at Rome’s historic Barron Stadium.
“It was a great experience,” said Gold Team coach Gordon Dudley, one of two coaches who previously competed in the Georgia Elite Classic. “Obviously, I played in the event in 2013 and I met a lot of people that I still keep up with, one is Brad Stewart, a great receiver at (Georgia) Tech. I am just glad that I can give back to these kids and get them some exposure on national television.”
Rabun County quarterback Knox Whitworth scored on a 25-yard run with 9:24 left in the first quarter to give the Gold Team the 7-0 lead after an extra-point from Westside’s Ozil Quijada to cap a 4-play, 70-yard drive in 2:36. Rome running back Jeremy Ferguson Jr. scored on a 4-yard run with 4:36 left in the first quarter which capped an 8-play, 27-yard drive in 3:46. Matthew Manning converted the extra-point to tie the game at 7.
“I am used to coaching high schoolers,” said Blue Team head coach Trevor Thomas. “Dropping down was somewhat of an adjustment. I had an opportunity to coach a bit in the offseason and coach with some of my former teammates and good buddies and so we just kept the main thing, the main thing.”
With 2:42 left in the first quarter, Calhoun running back Athens Davenport scored on a 44-yard pass from Carrollton quarterback Trucker Jordan to cap a 4-play, 70-yard drive in 1:54 and give the Gold Team a 14-7 lead. Quijada’s extra point proved to be the game-winner.
“We knew that A-Train was going to give us a spark,” Dudley said. “So we were just holding onto it and waiting for the right moment to use it and in the second half he got the job done.”
Lassiter receiver Mile Moore caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from Lakeview Academy quarterback Jordan Sharp with 10:19 left in the game to cap a 6-play, 60-yard drive in 2:05, but Manning’s extra-point try missed the mark.
Jordan was 7-of-9 passing for 96 yards and one touchdown and Whitworth had four carries for 38 yards and a touchdown for the Gold Team. Ferguson had 14 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown. Sharp was 4-of-12 passing for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Marist’s Hudson Kalb led the Gold Team with six solo and four assisted tackles with three tackles for loss. Osborne’s Carter Juneau made six solo tackles with four assisted tackles and three tackles for loss for the Blue Team.
8th Grade Blue 14, 8th Grade Gold 7 (full stats)
A 55-yard pass from Bode Spence to Keelan Wonsley with 1:18 left in the game lifted the Blue Team past the Gold Team in the second game of the day at the 11th annual Georgia Elite Classic at Rome’s historic Barron Stadium.
Trailing 7-0 after the first quarter, the Blue Team scored two unanswered touchdowns to secure the victory.
Ashworth’s Ezequiel Carter scored on a 4-yard run with 4:15 left in the first quarter to give the Gold Team a 7-0 lead following the extra-point from Blessed Trinity kicker Andrew Nelson. With 4:56 left in the first half, the Blue Team capped a 4-play, 21-yard drive with a 25-yard pass from Washington County quarterback Tristan Robinson to Mt. Pisgah receiver Andrew Cochran and Norcross kicker Joseph Garcia tied the game on the extra point.
The game-winning pass from Spence, an East Paulding quarterback, to Wonsley, a Milton receiver, capped a 2-play, 52-yard drive to secure the victory. Spence was 7-of-15 passing for 115 yards and a touchdown to lead the Blue Team. Wonsley made three receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Marist’s Lucas Rosser made six solo tackles and four assisted tackles with three tackles for loss and one sack to lead the Blue Team on defense.