The Nationals built a 24-7 halftime lead and held off the Americans to take the sixth annual Junior Elite game. North Atlanta quarterback Wiley Hartley was named MVP and got the Nationals on the board with a 70-yard touchdown pass to Ricky White (Wheeler) on the second play from scrimmage.
The Americans answered with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Donovan Anthony (Washington-Wilkes) to tight end Beau DeBerry (Grayson) to even it 7-7, and cap off an 11-play, 70-yard drive. The Nationals regained the lead with 1:11 to go in the first quarter with a 4-yard touchdown run by Nnamdi Orjioke (Lassiter).
Denmark quarterback Ben Whitlock stepped in and tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jamontae Jean (Therrell) that grew the Nationals’ lead to 21-7,and Evan Fuller (Bremen) tacked on a 23-yard field goal before the half. Fuller also won the halftime’s kicking competition with a 45-yarder.
American kicker Ezra King (Eastside) booted a 25-yard field goal to cap a 9-play, 62-yard scoring drive early in the third quarter, but Hartley struck again with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Devin Ellison (Cherokee) to put the Nationals ahead 31-10 heading into the final frame.
Stockbridge quarterback Jevon McDonald scrambled in the game’s final points from 20 yards out to make it 31-17. The Americans outgained the Nationals 342-to-317 in total yards. McDonald finished 11-of-25 passing for 123 yards and an interception, and took four carries for 41 yards to go with his rushing score.
Hartley finished 7-of-12 passing for 161 yards and his two touchdowns. There were a combined 19 different players that registered at least one reception in the game. Brookwood offensive lineman Sean Hill also picked up 15 receiving yards for the Nationals after taking a hook and ladder following a reception by North Cobb’s Kendall Drake on a designed call.
Defensively, Michaiah Bell (Harrison) posted 3.0 tackles for loss and four solo tackles. Roland Jackson (Norcross), Patrick Dahlen (Cherokee) and KD Johnson (Thomasville) each had interceptions. Brookwood linebacker Tony Ward had a game-high six solo tackles to lead the Nationals and Peach County safety Talique Allen led the Americans with five.