North Hall’s playoff hopes are on the brink after falling to Greater Atlanta Christian, 42-14, on Friday night at The Brickyard in Gainesville.
The Trojans (5-4, 2-3 Region 7-AAA) now must win next week against East Hall if they want to get into the state playoffs.
“If we don’t win, we’re done,” North Hall coach David Bishop said of his team’s matchup against East Hall. “This is pretty much a win and you’re in.”
The Spartans (8-1, 5-0) came in looking to keep their region record clean and did so largely on the arm of Stanford recruit Davis Mills.
GAC scored all six touchdowns through the air with Mills (23 of 31, 336 yards, six touchdowns) connecting on four scores in the first half and two more after the break. Mills found four different receivers for touchdowns.
North Hall’s Caleb Shoemaker scored the game’s final touchdown with 2:02 remaining in the game on a 46-yard scamper.
Mills found Harrison Sloan (7 receptions, 109 yards, three touchdowns) for the first two scores of the game — the first a 36-yarder and the second a 15-yard pass with 13 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Spartans’ quarterback connected with Max Burke on a 22-yard pass to go up 21-0 early in the second quarter.
The Trojans scored their first touchdown with 1:10 remaining in the second quarter on a 6-yard run from Jack Brown. Mills hit for his fourth touchdown pass of the game for a 28-7 halftime score.
Mills found Harrison Sloan for the pair’s third touchdown and the quarterback’s fifth in the third quarter. The final Spartans’ score came on a 16-yard pass from Mills to Trent Fowler to put Greater Atlanta Christian up 42-7.
Shoemaker scored over four minutes later for the Trojans.
The Trojans forced a pair of Spartan turnovers on fumbles in the first quarter, but couldn’t turn them into points.
The first fumble ended GAC’s first drive on the North Hall 7-yard line and resulted in a 44-yard punt from the Trojans. The second came on the first play of the Spartans’ third drive. The Trojans gave the ball back on the ensuing drive, the first of their two fumbles lost.
Despite the firepower of Greater Atlanta Christian, the longest play North Hall allowed on the night was the opening 36-yard touchdown pass to Sloan.
“I don’t remember any big, long, long plays, but that’s what they’re good at. They’re good at those intermediate routes. Not super long, somewhere in between that 10 and 15-yard mark,” Bishop said. “It’s all timing.”
Bishop tipped his cap to the GAC offense and its signal caller.
“Unless you do anything to interrupt the receivers’ timing or the quarterback’s timing, they’re really good at it,” he said. “There’s a reason why he’s the No. 2 quarterback in the nation. He put (passes) in little holes with defenders on (his receivers).”
The Spartans outgained North Hall 423-184 in total yardage. The Trojans outrushed Greater Atlanta Christian 169-97.
Still, no matter the result, Bishop said he felt really good about how his team played all night.
“That’s a talented football team from top to bottom on both sides of the football,” Bishop said. “There are a lot of Division I players that are going to big schools and our kids didn’t back down. That’s something I’m proud of them for.”
Greater Atlanta Christian will take a week off before traveling to Dawsonville for a potential battle for the region championship against Dawson County on Nov. 4.
North Hall will try to get its players healed next week as it prepares to play East Hall at The Brickyard. The Trojans will close the regular season with a bye week and could have a final week of practice for nothing, depending on the outcome of East Hall’s final regular season game against Fannin County.
“If we don’t (win against next week), we’re really tied with East Hall, from what I gather,” Bishop said. “Then, you’ve got to practice for a week and wonder if they’re going to lose. We’ve got to take care of business. Bottom line.”