Breaking Free

Tarance Breedlove tries to shake off a Walnut Grove defender in the first half of Loganville’s 31-3 victory Friday. The win lifted the Red Devils into the Class AAAAA playoffs next week

Walnut Grove tried to play the spoiler role, but instead will watch rival Loganville return to the state high school football playoffs over Thanksgiving break.

The host Red Devils got out to a big lead early and won the teams’ regular season finale, 31-3, on Friday night.

With the victory, Loganville wrapped up the No. 4 seed out of Region 8-AAAAA and will play at eighth-ranked St. Pius X (8-1), which beat Decatur 28-9 on Friday to clinch the Region 5 championship.

The Golden Lions beat Loganville in nonregion play each of the past two years.

Early on Friday night, quarterback Tanner Greene carried his team to the lead.

Greene was 3-for-4 passing on a first-quarter drive and he added a 26-yard run to set up Cooper Kennedy’s 13-yard touchdown run.

A 2-point conversion rush failed and Loganville led 6-0.

Another 21-yard run by Greene propelled Loganville to the 5-yard line with 80 seconds before halftime, but the drive actually lost ground and the Red Devils were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Devin Pugh.

The Red Devils led 9-0 at halftime.

Greene finished the first half 7-of-12 passing with 65 yards, and four carries for 51 yards.

Walnut Grove had a mere 17 yards in the first half.

Chad Walden carried eight times for 14 yards and Dee Brown had one carry for 11 yards to pace the Warrior offense, but Walnut Grove had several negative plays that killed any chances of progress.

Solomon Leslie led Loganville in the third quarter, running six times in one drive, tallying 57 yards. He capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown rush, and Pugh’s extra point kick made it 16-0 with 2:16 to play in the third quarter.

Leslie kept it up as the game dragged on, rushing 26 yards to set up Greene’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Michael Mason.

Gabe Farmer connected with Kennedy on a 2-point play with 9:17 remaining in the game.

After being spelled by freshman Kendall Lee in the third quarter, Evan Wellborn came back in for Walnut Grove and got the offense going with passes to Austin Coleman. Soon, though, Ashton Adams also came in to play quarterback and it all led to a 30-yard field goal by Brenden Hamrick that broke the shutout with just over two minutes to play.

On the next play from scrimmage, though, Greene hit Mason for a second scoring play, this time a 53-yard touchdown pass.

Pugh’s extra point set the final margin at 31-3.

Greene ended the night 11-of-18 for 152 yards. Leslie ran 15 times for 118 yards.

Walnut Grove’s season ends at 3-7 with a 2-5 mark in Region 8-AAAAA. That ties the Warriors for sixth in the eight-team region, a game back of Jackson County and knotted with Apalachee (2-8 overall), which defeated the Warriors 19-7 on Nov. 6.

Region champion Clarke Central, the ninth-ranked team in Class AAAAA, was idle on Friday. Its game against Johnson-Gainesville was canceled due to COVID-19 precautions. The Gladiators (7-2, 6-0) will play host to Lithonia next week.

Eastside routed Greenbrier 44-7 to clinch the No. 2 seed in the playoffs out of Region 8 and will host Southwest DeKalb.

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