North Murray's football program is headed to the state quarterfinals for the first time after topping Jackson 24-14 in a GHSA Class AAA second-round playoff game Friday night in Chatsworth.
The Mountaineers (11-1), coming off their first region title in their 10th season, used a touchdown pass and a scoring run from senior quarterback Ladd McConkey and another strong defensive showing to top the Red Devils (8-4), the Region 4 runners-up.
North Murray will travel to Jenkins in Savannah for next week's quarterfinal round. Jenkins (11-1) routed Dawson County 42-9 on Friday.
The multitalented McConkey, after he blocked a Jackson field-goal attempt, hit Hayden Hulett with a short touchdown pass for the game's first points early in the second quarter. The teams traded interceptions late in the half before the Mountaineers opened the third quarter with a six-minute touchdown drive for a 14-0 lead, ending it with Dylan Flood's 2-yard run.
Jackson used Josh Scott's touchdown pass to cap a quick drive and cut the Mountaineers' advantage to seven just before the end of the third quarter, but North Murray answered with Owen Hannah's 20-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead. The Mountaineers then put the game away with a McConkey 24-yard touchdown pass to Dante Tidwell.
In another Class AAA matchup involving a northwest Georgia team, the news wasn't good for Calhoun, which lost 35-0 at top-ranked Peach County.
The Trojans (11-1) got touchdown runs of 75, 2 and 1 yards from Noah Whittington and a touchdown pass and run from Jaydon Gibson in the rout.
The Peach County defense held Calhoun to one first down gained in the first half, and it came on perhaps the biggest play of the game. Trailing 12-0, the Yellow Jackets (10-2) pulled off what looked like a momentum-changing fake punt backed up to their 9-yard line, but a hard hit forced a fumble at the Calhoun 40. Peach scored moments later to make it a three-score game.