JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Then there was one.
Ware County was the lone area state semifinal survivor on a miserable night of football for local programs.
All five Florida-area programs bowed out one win shy of championship game appearances, some in blowout fashion and others in agonizing misses that will be talked about for some time.
Ware County pummeled Dutchtown 31-7 in the Class 5A state semifinals to punch its ticket for the title game on Dec. 10 in Atlanta. The Gators (13-0) will meet Warner Robins (10-4) for the championship.
University Christian’s season ended in 1M with an agonizing final minute loss to Clearwater Central Catholic, 34-29.
Bolles’ attempt to make a stunning comeback ended with a 21-14 loss on the road the Plantation American Heritage in the Class 2M state semis. The Bulldogs (9-5) trailed 21-0 to start the fourth before Ethan Drumm threw touchdown passes to Chase Collier and Naeem Burroughs to bring Bolles back late. It couldn’t get any closer.
Drumm started in place of regular starter DJ Moore who did not play in the game.
In Class 3S, Columbia was down four touchdowns in the blink of an eye and had no answer for Lake Wales in a 37-7 blowout loss. The Tigers, who started 0-2 before a massive turnaround, finished their season 9-4. The Highlanders (14-0) jumped in front 28-0 before Jaylen Cooper ended the shutout. Columbia couldn’t get closer than that.
In Class 2S, Bradford’s dream season ended with a 31-21 loss to visiting Cocoa, denying the Tornadoes (12-2) their first title game appearance since 1966. Bradford erased a 14-0 deficit and tied the game at 14-all and then 21-all on a Jeremiah McKenzie touchdown run. But the Tigers (10-3) closed with the final 10 points of the game to deny Bradford.
In Class 1R, Union County’s trek to Northview ended with a 21-11 loss to the unbeaten Chiefs. The Tigers (8-3) got within 14-11 on a Rayvon Durant touchdown and a two-point conversion early in the fourth quarter but Northview put the Tigers away late.
(1) Miami Central 39, (4) Lakewood 21
(2) American Heritage 21, (3) Bolles 14
(1) Chaminade-Madonna 56, (4) True North 0
(3) Clearwater Central Catholic 34, (2) University Christian 29
(1) Lake Wales 37, (4) Columbia 7
(3) Mainland 30, (2) Dunbar 23
(1) Florida High 38, (4) Bishop Verot 28
(1) Hawthorne 28, (4) Blountstown 0
(2) Northview 21, (3) Union County 11
Georgia High School Association playoffs
(1) Ware County 31, (1) Dutchtown 7
Dec. 10, Center Parc Stadium, Atlanta
Ware County (13-0) vs. Warner Robins (10-4), 3:30 p.m.