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Union Grove improvises and prevails

From Staff Reports

Without starting quarterback Ty Moore available for the playoffs, without much knowledge of its first-round opponent, Union Grove didn't know what to expect facing Windsor Forest on Friday night.

"We didn't really know what to expect," Wolverines coach Steven Collins said.

Without Moore, the Wolverines improvised. Working extensively out of its Wildcat package, Union Grove stormed to an early lead and eventual 47-20 victory over the Knights in the Class AAAAA state playoffs.

Union Grove (9-2) won a playoff game for the first time since 2006, when the Wolverines went on the road and beat Windsor Forest.

The Wolverines will face No. 1 seed Northside-Warner Robins (10-1) in the second round next Friday. The Eagles were 35-14 winners over Chapel Hill. Union Grove lost to Northside-Warner Robins last season in the first round.

"It's kind of ironic," Collins said. "We're looking forward to the challenge."

Donovan Johnson rushed for two touchdowns. Jordan Akins rushed for a score and caught a touchdown pass from Moon, who also added another score on the ground.

Ed Wilkins caught a touchdown pass. Kyle Kersey recovered a fumble for a score.

It was a complete effort, Collins said.

"The defense did their normal thing. Everything was clicking — offense, defense and special teams," he said.

Westside-Macon 33, Mt. Zion 7

A year ago, Mt. Zion made a miraculous run to the Class AAAA quarterfinals.

Any possibility of repeating that feat ended quickly Friday, as Westside-Macon overwhelmed Mt. Zion, dealing the Bulldogs a 33-7 loss on the road.

"I'm just glad we played hard until the end," Bulldogs first-year coach Jaime Aull said. "We gave up a few big plays. The game got away from us. Just something we have to learn from and use in the offseason to get better."

Aull said Mt. Zion (8-3) had a hard time containing Seminoles wide receiver Ronald Carswell. The 6-foot, 190-pound senior has committed to Alabama.

"He is a legit football player," Aull said. "We couldn't do much with him."

Inconsistency on offense was also a problem.

"When we needed to throw the ball, the protection wasn't there. When protection was there, we dropped the football," Aull said. "We just weren't balanced tonight."

Cairo 42, Woodland 3

Defending Class AAA champion Cairo showed Woodland what playoff football was all about.

Playing in the program's first playoff game in just its third year, third-seeded Woodland fell 42-3 on the road to the Syrupmakers.

"You named what happened could go wrong, it did," Woodland coach Scott Schmitt said.

Woodland (7-4) had developed a knack for giving up early scores, only to respond with resounding victories in its most successful season in school history. The Wolverines set records for most wins in a season (7), qualified for its first playoff appearance and had its first 1,000-yard passer (David Williams).

But when Cairo scored early and took advantage of turnovers, the Wolverines couldn't recover. Losing all-Region defensive end Alex Findura early on to a dislocated hip didn't help either.

"They've been there before. They know what it means to be in the playoffs and the ramifications," Schmitt said.

"But we have a lot to be proud of," Schmitt continued. "We're going to keep working."

Thomasville 44, Henry County 0

Too many early turnovers turned into an insurmountable deficit for the Warhawks, who lost at Thomasville in the first round of the Class AA playoffs.

Henry County (7-4) turned the ball over on its first four possessions of the game. Thomasville capitilized on each opportunity to take an early 28-0 lead in the second quarter. By halftime, it led 35-0.

Warhawks coach Mike Rozier said Thomasville was one of the fastest teams he's faced in his 10 years at Henry County.

"Extremely, extremely fast. They could go a long way," Rozier said. "They play a little different football down in South Georgia."

Despite the loss, Rozier praised his team for persevering through the loss of 26 seniors, the addition of new coaches and a tenuous start to the season.

"We were not a team early in the first month of the season," Rozier said. "We were trying to find our identity. Somewhere in the season we just starting getting better and playing as a team. I'm proud of them for that."