Patriots advance to second round of state playoffs

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It was the busiest mid-November night in years for high school football in Fayette County, with four teams reaching the first round of the state playoffs. Unfortunately, only one will advance to next week’s second round.

SANDY CREEK 23, COLUMBIA 14: The Patriots (10-1), the only Fayette team playing at home this weekend, were in control the entire way, going up 14-0 on Eric Swinney’s 75-yard touchdown run and taking a 23-0 halftime lead. They will travel to Jesup next week to face Wayne County, the top seed from Region 3-AAAA.

MARIST 30, WHITEWATER 13: The Wildcats fell behind 20-0 in the first half and were unable to catch up, finishing the season with a record of 7-4. Christian Wafford put his team on the scoreboard late in the first half with an 86-yard touchdown run, and Jay Ashley scored from 3 yards out with 4 seconds left in the game.

ST. PIUS 24, FAYETTE COUNTY 0: Playing only a few miles from the Whitewater-Marist game on the north side of Atlanta, the Tigers (5-6) were unable to find the end zone against the Region 6-AAAA champions.

WARE COUNTY 45, STARR’S MILL 10: The Panthers (6-5) kept it close until late in the third quarter in Waycross against the state’s top-ranked AAAAA team. The score was tied a 3 until a Ware County touchdown less than a minute before the half. Trailing 17-3 midway through the third quarter, Starr’s Mill pulled off a fake punt on fourth-and-13 at its own 37 that resulted in a 60-yard pass from Mitch Pattison to Satchel Goodrich. That set up Rico Frye’s 1-yard scoring run to cut the lead to seven. But Ware County came right back with a 60-yard drive and a touchdown, then capitalized on a Starr’s Mill fumble to pick up another third-quarter score. A 52-yard interception return made it 38-10, then the home team got one last score with two minutes left.