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State playoffs: Trojans' dream season ends
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Flowery Branch resident David Parrish discusses his last-minute Christmas shopping at the new Kohl’s department store.
ATLANTA — A teary locker room momentarily overshadowed a season’s worth of accomplishments for North Hall following a 42-21 loss to Cairo in the Class AAA semifinals Saturday at the Georgia Dome. The loss brought an end to a season of firsts in school history, most notably the first appearance playing in the state semifinals and single-season record 13 wins.

The Trojans (13-1) were hoping for a shot at their first football state title in school history. But the dazzling speed of the Syrupmakers (13-1) brought a sudden end to those dreams with 35 third quarter points.

It was the North Hall defense that made a trip this deep in the playoffs possible. But the Trojans didn’t have an answer to Cairo’s running game, passing game and anything else the Syrupmakers tried to do on offense in the third quarter.

It took Cairo only 12 plays to score all five touchdowns in the third period.

But the loss doesn’t take away the accomplishments of a senior class at North Hall that made three appearances in the quarterfinals, won three Region 7-AAA titles and broke the previous record of wins by a senior class at North Hall with 42.

"This was the greatest team to ever play at North Hall and have so much to be proud of even though it hurts to lose right now," North Hall coach Bob Christmas said. "They played with tremendous passion all season and accomplished something that had never been done in school history."

Soon enough those tears will dry and the Trojans will realize what they managed to accomplish this season.

"This was a Godly group to play with and I feel blessed to get to play with these guys," North Hall sophomore linebacker Robert Humphrey said. "This group of seniors was the best."

"I’m very proud of this team," Trojans lineman Daniel Blitch said. "Nobody ever slacked this season, and really set the bar high for the future."

The Trojans looked strong in the first half against the Syrupmakers. North Hall led 14-7 at the half, after Humphrey’s 60-yard return for a touchdown and a Hunter Wolf’s touchdown run from the 25.

The Trojans struck first thanks to a bad snap on a field goal attempt that Humphrey scooped up and scored on with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter. They also took advantage of a Cairo drive that stalled after the Syrupmakers went for a deep pass on a third-and-2.

But Cairo stopped giving the Trojans any scoring opportunities after the half.

Wolf finished as North Hall’s leading rusher with 82 yards. The Syrpumakers, who only allowed 107 yards rushing per game heading into the semifinals, held the Trojans to only 202 yards on the ground. North Hall only managed 206 yards of offense and went without a first down the entire third quarter.

And Cairo poured it on in the third quarter thanks to great speed and missed tackles by the Trojans. Cairo’s Reginald Bryant scored on an 80-yard run on the first play of the third quarter to tie the score 14-14. Bryant led the Syrupmakers with 230 rushing yards.

Then the flood gates opened. Syrupmakers tailback Ronnie Wooten scored on runs of 49 and 62 yards, Bryant added a score from the 5, and Shontarious Brown scored on a 37-yard pass from quarterback Angelo Pease before the end of the third quarter.

"We had the momentum at halftime," Christmas said. "It just boiled down to poor tackling."

Cairo’s quick-hit touchdowns were the driving force behind its 424 yards of total offense. Wooten finished with 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Pease completed 5 of 9 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

It marked the first time all season the Trojans allowed more than 20 points in a season.

"Coach Christmas told us after the game that he knows it hurts right now to lose," Humphrey said, "but we’ll realize what we accomplished."

Cairo advances to play Carver-Columbus in the state finals. North Hall’s season is now complete.

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