JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The night started with a dozen area teams in the state playoffs and only six of those remain.
Two big upsets, including the top two teams in the News4JAX Super 6, headlined a wild regional final night as previously unbeaten Trinity Christian and Bartram Trail both bowed out in major shockers.
University Christian edged Trinity 36-27 in Region 1-1M, while Gainesville Buchholz stunned Bartram 21-20 in Region 1-4S.
Both of those teams atoned for losses in the regular season. Also heading to state final four games next week — Bolles, Bradford, Columbia, Union County and Ware County.
UC’s win over Trinity was wild. The Christians never trailed in the game and were able to answer every Conquerors rally with a counter of their own.
The Christians (11-1) hadn’t beaten Trinity since 1991-92, both with both of those victories (54-13 and 44-6) coming during state championship seasons for UC. It took pick-six returns from Orel Gray and Desirrio Riles, the latter coming off a screen pass less than a minute into the fourth quarter for a 29-20 lead.
Colin Hurley responded with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Miles Burris less than a minute later to get the Conquerors with 29-27. UC countered with a clinching score on a beautiful fade from Dwayne Stuckey to Jenoa Alford with 3 minutes, 21 seconds to play. Alford had two touchdown catches in the game. The win ended a 17-game losing streak to Trinity.
“We talked before the season. We got Bolles [for the first time in 2019]. We won the Georgia game [Charlton County]. And we finally got Trinity,” said UC coach David Penland III. “For me, personally, that’s something I always wanted to do. I’ve lost to them as a player and so has half of my coaching staff. I think my dad’s the only one on staff who actually beat Trinity back in the day.”
Treyaun Webb had a couple rushing touchdowns for the Conquerors (11-1), who were seeking to win three consecutive state championships.
Bartram’s loss was a shocker, too. The Bears (12-1) had been motoring along, including a 21-6 win over Buchholz in the regular season. Bartram hadn’t been held under 42 points in a game since that victory over the Bobcats in Week 9, but couldn’t solve Creed Whittemore and Buchholz this time. The Bobcats led 21-10 at the break and held off Bartram’s charge in the second half.
Bolles beat Raines 21-14 in Region 1-2M to reach its fourth consecutive state semifinal under coach Matt Toblin.
In Region 1-3S, Columbia edged Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee in overtime, 20-14, giving second-year head coach Demetric Jackson Sr. his first state semifinal trip. Tyler Jefferson threw the winning touchdown to Tray Tolliver in OT and the Tigers held on with defense to clinch it. Columbia (9-3) will travel to Lake Wales (13-0) for the Class 3S state semifinal next week.
Winslette throws incomplete to the end zone. BALL GAME.— Jordan Kroeger (@ByJordanKroeger) November 26, 2022
Final in OT: Columbia 20, Choctaw 14.
Tigers advance to their first state semifinal since 2015. They’ll be on the road next week.
In Region 2-2S, Bradford’s dominant season continued with a 28-17 win over Baker County. The Tornadoes (12-1) overcame a 10-point halftime deficit, using a kickoff return for a touchdown by Jametrius Pringle and a long touchdown pass from Jeremiah McKenzie to Chason Clark in the second half to send them into the fourth round for the first time. Bradford, led by first-year coach Jamie Rodgers, will host Cocoa in the state semifinals. Baker County’s season ended a step short of back-to-back state semifinal appearances.
In Region 1-2S, Suwannee’s season ended with a 38-13 loss at Tallahassee’s Florida High. The Bulldogs finished 10-3.
In Class 1R, Union County dominated Lafayette in a 41-6 romp, reaching the fourth round for the first time since 2003. Its the first state semi with the Tigers for coach Andrew Thomas. He won two state championships at Trenton. Union County will visit Northview for the state final four game.
In the Georgia High School Association playoffs, Ware County continued its perfect season with a 35-0 rout of Calhoun to reach the Class 5A state semifinals. The Gators (12-0) will host Dutchtown (12-1) in the state semis.
In Class 2A, Pierce County’s season ended with a 40-22 loss to Fellowship Christian. The Bears finished their season 11-2.
Regional finals, Florida
(1) Florida High 38, (2) Suwannee 13
(1) Union County 41, (3) Lafayette 6
Friday, Dec. 2
(4) Lakewood (9-4) at (1) Miami Central (12-0)
(3) Bolles (9-4) at (2) American Heritage (12-1)
(4) True North (9-3) at (1) Chaminade-Madonna (11-0)
(3) Clearwater Central Catholic (11-1) at (2) University Christian (11-1)
(4) Columbia (9-3) at (1) Lake Wales (13-0)
(3) Mainland (10-3) at (2) Dunbar (10-1)
(4) Bishop Verot (10-2) at (1) Florida High (12-0)
(3) Cocoa (9-3) at (2) Bradford (12-1)
(4) Blountstown (9-4) at (1) Hawthorne (10-0)
(3) Union County (8-2) at (2) Northview (12-0)
Georgia High School Association playoffs
(1) Ware County 35, (1) Calhoun 0
(1) Fellowship Christian 40, (2) Pierce County 22
Friday, Dec. 2
(1) Dutchtown (12-1) at (1) Ware County (12-0)