TUNNEL HILL, Ga. — Heritage won the battle but Ridgeland eventually won the war as Georgia's Region 6-AAAA completed a wild football season Friday night.
The Generals used 218 total yards, two touchdown runs and a scoring pass from junior quarterback Nick Hanson to prevail 30-22 at Northwest Whitfield. The win earns Heritage the No. 2 seed from 6-AAAA for the state playoffs that begin next week. It also helped Ridgeland, which won 55-35 over Southeast Whitfield, secure the region title.
"It's really great to be able to celebrate a region championship with this team," said Ridgeland coach Kip Klein, who used a bruising ground game led by Terrance and Torrance Roberts to subdue winless Southeast. "Our offensive line really ate tonight, but give Southeast and coach Sean Gray credit for really make us work. They never quit and we never felt comfortable until the end."
For Heritage (8-2, 5-1), which will host Atlanta's St. Pius X in the first round of the Class AAAA bracket, Hanson's 8-yard run capped a short drive in the first quarter that gave the Generals a 7-6 lead. He later hit a leaping Sam Randolph for a 16-yard touchdown pass, but a Bryce Mantooth 6-yard run pulled the Bruins (7-3, 4-2) within 24-19 at halftime.
Northwest, which would have taken the region title with a win, reached the Heritage 7 late in the third quarter but had to settle for a field toal. A dead-ball personal foul kept the ensuing Generals' drive alive at the Bruins' 9, and on the first play of the final quarter Hanson kept on an option fake for a 7-yard score.
"They were overplaying some of our receivers, and we haven't shown that much on film this year, so Nick had some chances to hurt them with the run," Heritage coach E.K. Slaughter said. "We don't want to run him too much, but it's that time of year so we let him loose.
"It was a back-and-forth game. It was well coached on both sides, just a good Friday night football game."
Northwest had two chances to possibly tie the score in the final quarter, but the Heritage defense, which allowed just 29 yards, stood firm.
"We finally settled in defensively," Slaughter said. "They popped us on a couple of plays, which was good execution. I'm proud of the guys for winning at a tough place to play."
As a result of the games, Ridgeland (6-4, 5-1) will host Madison County next week, with Northwest traveling to undefeated Oconee County.
* Calhoun, already locked in as the No. 2 seed behind North Murray, defeated Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 44-7, ending the Warriors' season and making Sonoraville the No. 4 seed for Region 6-AAA. The Phoenix lost 45-21 to North Murray.
* Chattooga lost at Pepperell and will be the fourth seed from Region 7-AA.
* Dalton routed Osborne 61-0 and is the fourth seed from 6-AAAAAA. Senior running back Jahmyr Gibbs had 214 yards and five touchdowns on just 13 carries.