Cherokee Bluff is no longer simply the new team in Hall County. The Bears are now a region champion.
On Friday, Eli Little had a huge 56-yard touchdown grab from Sebastian Irons early in the fourth quarter for the Bears (9-0, 5-0 Region 7-3A) to make it a two-score lead and wrap up the Region 7-3A championship by beating North Hall 41-24 on Friday in Flowery Branch.
Jayquan Smith locked it up with a 26-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter.
With the win, Cherokee Bluff locks up the No. 1 seed to the state playoffs with a regular season game remaining against White County next week.
The third-year Bears are also assured a home date to open the state playoffs Nov. 27 in Flowery Branch.
After a back-and-forth first half, Mason Gill gave Cherokee Bluff the lead with a 30-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter. Gill also had a 28-yard field goal in the first half for the Bears.
The pass game played a crucial part for the Bears.
Trailing 24-17 late in the third period, Cherokee Bluff's Shad Dabney had a 29-yard catch down to the 1 on a fourth-and-5 play. Brayden Nance punched it in on the next play with a run from the 1 to tie it at 24-24.
Just two minutes into the game, Dabney had a catch that went for a 58-yard Cherokee Bluff score to make it 7-0.
North Hall battled back with a score when Cameron Crisp recovered a fumbled punt to tie it at 7-7. With the score tied late in the first quarter, Little blocked a North Hall punt and Eric Gohman recovered it and took it in for the score, giving the Bears a 14-7 lead.
Despite troubles running the ball, North Hall running back Clark Howell had a 63-yard pass reception on the final play of the first quarter, setting up his 1-yard scoring run.
North Hall wraps up the regular season against Dawson County on Friday in Gainesville. The Trojans are already assured a playoff berth and can lock up the No. 2 seed to state with a win.