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Staff file photo by Matt Hamilton / Calhoun football coach Clay Stephenson's Yellow Jackets beat Ware County 49-42 in dramatic fashion in the second round of the GHSA Class AAAAA playoffs Friday night in Waycross, Ga.

Needing a defensive stop in a football game that had included very few of them, Calhoun got a memorable one to seal a dramatic postseason win Friday night.

The Yellow Jackets forced and recovered a fumble at their 2-yard line with 16 seconds remaining to upset third-ranked Ware County 49-2 in a wild matchup in the second round of the GHSA Class AAAAA playoffs in Waycross.

The Yellow Jackets (10-2), who will travel to Clarke Central next week, scored on each of their five second-half possessions to rally from a 21-7 deficit but needed a big play from a pair of seniors to escape with the win.

Caden Williams scored on a short run (with the Gators out of timeouts, their defense didn't try to stop him) to put Calhoun up — for good, as it turned out — with less than two minutes to play. Ware, though, used the playmaking of dynamic quarterback Thomas Castellanos to move downfield, with his 35-yard pass to James Daniels putting the ball at Calhoun's 13.

The Gators faced third-and-goal from the 2 when Castellanos took off around the right end. Seniors Christopher Lewis and Gage Leonard met him at the line of scrimmage, with Leonard going low and Lewis straight to the chest. The ball popped out, and Dustin Kerns recovered it for the clinching blow.

(READ MORE: Final scores and photos from Friday night's Chattanooga-area high school playoffs)

"We debated running the clock out and kicking a field goal, but we decided to trust the defense and it worked out," Calhoun coach Clay Stephenson said. "It took a bunch of pride, effort, and I'm so proud of these kids. There's nothing like high school football, win, lose or draw."

Sixth-ranked Calhoun started its rally late in the first half on a Christian Lewis 45-yard touchdown pass to Cole Speer (10 receptions, 201 yards), and the Jackets used an onside kick to start the second half to produce the tying points when Quin Smith scored on a 15-yard run.

The teams exchanged the next four touchdowns before Calhoun forced a turnover on downs on a Ware drive that was hampered by a personal foul taunting call on Castellanos. Christian Lewis, who passed for 447 yards and three touchdowns, moments later made the Gators pay with a 22-yard keeper for Calhoun's first lead of the night, 42-35, setting up the wild final six minutes.

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Staff file photo by Robin Rudd / The Trion High School football team's season ended in the second round of the GHSA Class A public school playoffs Friday night with a 23-22 overtime loss at Wilcox County.

Class A public — Wilcox County 23, Trion 22 (OT): The Patriots (9-3) answered a Trion touchdown in overtime and won it with a 2-point conversion run to end the Bulldogs' season at 10-2 in Rochelle.

Trion trailed 9-0 at halftime but scored on back-to-back drives in the third quarter on Rob Brown touchdown runs of 60 and 3 yards and added a Cole Cavin 2-point run for a 15-9 lead. Wilcox tied it on an Abe Stowe touchdown pass to Buddy Lee Marshall, but a 2-point try failed to leave the game tied at 15. Trion twice had the ball inside Wilcox territory in the final five minutes but could not score as the game went into overtime.

Brown, who had 190 yards to finish the season with 2,701 yards, added his third touchdown of the game to start overtime, but Wilcox needed just two plays to tie it on Stowe's pass to DayDay Lawson before winning on the 2-point run.

Class AAA — Thomson 14, Ringgold 7: The Tigers lost the defensive battle to end their season at 10-2 in Thomson. Ringgold tied it at 7 on Mason Parker's 43-yard touchdown pass to Peyton Williams in the second quarter, but Parker suffered a concussion later in the quarter and did not return to action.

The Bulldogs (11-0), who ran twice as many plays as the Tigers, broke the tie with a long drive late in the third quarter that ended on the first play of the fourth when a halfback pass from Jontavious Curry to Ashton Perry caught the Tigers off guard on third-and-goal from the 6.

Ringgold went to the wildcat formation with star tailback Kori Dumas taking snaps, and his big run set the Tigers up at the Thomson 10 with less than five minutes to play. However, two plays later Dumas' pass was intercepted and the Tigers never got the ball back.

Class AAAA — Bainbridge 48, Northwest Whitfield 7: Bo Smith had four touchdown passes and the Bearcats (9-3) returned two interceptions for touchdowns to end the Bruins' season at 8-4. Northwest's lone touchdown came on Owen Brooker's 12-yard pass to Ray Morrison.

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.

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Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Ringgold's Malachi Hill, center, celebrates after intercepting a pass during a home game against LaFayette on Oct. 8. Ringgold's season ended in the second round of the GHSA Class AAA playoffs Friday night with a 14-7 loss at Thomson.
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