The 3A football season will end at Georgia State Stadium on Wednesday with two hungry programs – Oconee County and Pierce County – playing at noon to decide the state champion.
The Pierce County (Blackshear, GA) varsity football team has a neutral playoff game vs. Oconee County (Watkinsville, GA) today @ 12pm at Georgia State Stadium. This game is a part of the “2020 Georgia High School Football Playoff Brackets: GHSA – AAA” tournament.
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Oconee County reached the finals for the second consecutive season, and after losing 17-14 to Blessed Trinity in the 4A state championship game last season, the Warriors want a title. Pierce County is searching for the program’s first title and does not want to go home to Blackshear without it.
Statistically speaking, here’s the breakdown:
Pierce County: The Bears made a semifinal exit in 2018 under head coach Jason Strickland, the program’s deepest run into the playoffs until this season. Ryan Herring has led Pierce County for two seasons and has compiled a 23-2 record.
Pierce’s had a semifinal victory against 2019 3A runner-up Crisp County at home to earn the program’s first-ever finals appearance. It has been dubbed the “Miracle in Bearsville,” and it was miraculous. Trailing 13-9 entering the fourth quarter and 13-12 in the final minutes, Pierce forced two fumbles – one returned 60 yards for a touchdown and one recovered in the end zone – to stun the Cougars. Ty Little caused the first fumble, which was recovered by Austin Jernigan and returned for a touchdown, and John Manghir forced a second fumble that D.J. Bell recovered in the end zone.
The Bears’ offense is led by 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior quarterback Jermaine Brewton, who is 116-of-167 passing for 1,740 yards and 24 touchdowns and has 116 carries for 658 yards and 15 touchdowns. Pierce averages 198 rushing yards and 144 passing yards per game. Brewton has passed to 10 different receivers for touchdowns. Senior Maleek Chandel has 26 receptions for 401 yards and seven touchdowns. Knox Bennett, a junior tight end, has eight receptions for 105 yards and five touchdowns. Bell is a threat from the backfield with 160 carries for 1,366 yards and 15 touchdowns. Senior back L.J. Newton Jr. has 30 carries for 335 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, Pierce has held opponents to 54 passing yards and 87 rushing yards per game.
Pierce’s path to the final went through Burke County, Central-Macon and Carver-Atlanta, before the stunner against Crisp County.
Oconee County: The Warriors won the program’s only title (Class 3A) in 1999. Travis Noland has led Oconee County since 2014 and had not been past the second round before last year’s run to the championship game.
After surviving a double-overtime thriller against Greater Atlanta Christian in the semifinals, Oconee County has been tested and is resilient. Junior quarterback Jacob Wright leads an Oconee offense that averages 141 passing to 168 rushing yards per game. He is 84-of-158 passing for 1,505 yards and 20 touchdowns and has 51 carries for 280 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Jake Johnson has 32 receptions for 742 yards and nine touchdowns. Junior Darius Johnson Jr. has 25 receptions for 386 yards and six touchdowns. Seniors Justin Coleman and West Weeks each have two touchdown receptions. On defense, the Warriors have held opponents to 92 passing yards and 109 rushing yards per game. Coleman has 124 tackles, 85 assists and 39 solos with six tackles for losses, three sacks and an interception. West Weeks has 105 tackles, 42 solo and 63 assists. Sophomore Whit Weeks has 72 tackles, with eight tackles for losses and three interceptions.
Oconee County’s path to the finals went through Westminster, Dawson County and Peach County before the double-overtime victory against GAC.