Both Calhoun and Ringgold had much to gain with wins Friday night. When the final horns sounded, however, a pair of losses left one of those football teams facing a tougher path to the GHSA playoffs and the other still fighting to get in.
Calhoun lost at home to Cartersville, 31-14, at Phil Reeve Stadium, ending the Yellow Jackets' regular season at 7-3 and 3-2 in Region 7-AAAAA and relegating them to the region's No. 3 seed.
Ringgold led for much of its Region 6-AAA game at Sonoraville before the Phoenix rallied for a 26-23 win. The Tigers (5-4, 4-3) may now have to defeat region champion Rockmart to make the playoffs, though Friday's cancellation of the LaFayette-Rockmart game could complicate matters.
The turning point in the Calhoun loss came with 45 seconds to play in the first half after the Jackets had scored on a Christian Lewis 1-yard run to cut the Cartersville lead to 10-7. The Purple Hurricanes (8-1, 4-0) answered right back with a Devonte Ross touchdown catch on a pass by Carlos Del Rio with seven seconds left to go back up by 10.
"That score was big," dejected Calhoun coach Clay Stephenson said. "We played hard but just didn't get the outcome we wanted. We had gotten right back into it right before the half, but they made a big play there."
Calhoun used a touchdown run from Jerrian Hames to cut the lead back to three in the third quarter and later had the ball inside the Cartersville 25 when Amarai Orr's interception and 32-yard return set up a Quante Jennings touchdown run for a 24-14 lead.
Ringgold led 23-10 after scoring 14 consecutive points on a touchdown run from Malachi Hill and Kori Dumas' touchdown — his area-best 23rd this year — on a screen pass from Mason Parker late in the third quarter.
Sonoraville, winner of two straight region games after starting 0-5, got within six on a Brady Lackey run, then got within three on a field goal with five minutes to play. After forcing a punt, the Phoenix struck quickly when Brant Bryant took a short pass and sprinted 84 yards for a 26-23 lead with 1:39 left.
Adairsville 42, North Murray 35: The Mountaineers trailed 28-0 in the first half and were behind by 21 late in the third quarter before nearly rallying for the win. Adairsville (6-3, 5-2) now has the inside route to the Region 6-AAA No. 2 seed.
Jamuary Johnson scored a pair of touchdowns for the Tigers, including what turned out to be the winner with just less than two minutes to play in the third quarter. Seth Griffin ran for two touchdowns and threw touchdown passes to Cade Petty and Michael McDade, with the latter score getting North Murray within seven with 7:23 remaining.
The Mountaineers (6-3, 5-2) fall to a likely No. 3 seed with the loss.
Heritage 23, Pickens 7: Paxton McCrary ran for two touchdowns and Nick Hanson connected with Logan Lowe on a 6-yard scoring pass as the Generals (5-4, 2-2) remained in playoff contention in Region 7-AAAA.
Also in 7-AAAA, the Ridgeland at Northwest Whitfield game was canceled Friday due to surging COVID-19 positive tests within the Walker County school system. The forfeit eliminates Ridgeland from playoff contention.
Dalton 27, Paulding County 15: Ashton Blackwell scored on touchdown runs of 5 and 2 yards and threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Luke Blanchard as the Catamounts (2-7) earned their first Region 5-AAAAAA win in six tries this season. Dalton's Maurice Howard rushed for 115 yards.
Gordon Lee 49, Armuchee 14: The victorious Trojans (8-1, 3-1 Region 6-A public) clinched a No. 2 seed behind 194 yards and two touchdowns from Cade Peterson. Gordon Lee ran for 442 yards, including 106 and a score from Bo Rhudy and 55 yards and a touchdown from Nate Dunfee. Jacob Neal had an interception return and touchdown catch for the Trojans.
Murray County 38, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 35: Kaleb Jones ran for a pair of touchdowns and passed for another as the Indians (4-6, 3-5 Region 6-AAA) held off a furious LFO rally. Jacob Brown scored each of the Warriors' touchdowns on runs of 46, 2, 67, 58 and 12 yards, the final one coming with 2:03 remaining. The ensuing LFO onside kick was recovered by Carson Voiles to seal the win.
Mount Zion-Carroll 35, Trion 21: The Bulldogs (3-6, 1-3 Region 6-A public), who were led by Rob Brown's 145 yards and two touchdowns, had 14 players quarantined due to COVID-19 contact tracing. Brown, who had touchdown runs of 81 and 2 yards, now has more than 1,100 rushing yards in 2020. Brantley Willbanks scored Trion's other touchdown on a pass from Cayden Watson.
Pepperell 28, Chattooga 13: The Dragons (5-4, 4-1 Region 7-AA) clinched the No. 2 seed, while Chattooga (3-6, 2-3) will have to defeat Model on Tuesday to clinch a playoff berth.
Gordon Central 35, Dade County 32: The Warriors (3-6, 2-3 Region 7-AA) remain in contention for a playoff spot, dealing Dade (2-7, 1-4) a lethal blow to its postseason hopes.