Avery Hamilton

Avery Hamilton breaks free from the pile in the first half of Loganville’s game Friday night against Clarke Central. Hamilton finished with 72 yards rushing including a touchdown in the third quarter.

LOGANVILLE — Clarke Central held on to the top spot in Region 8-AAAAA high school football, but got all it wanted from Loganville.

The host Red Devils took an early lead, gave it up but made a game of it into the fourth quarter before the Gladiators escaped with a 27-24 victory.

Clarke Central all but clinched the region championship. The Gladiators are 6-2 overall and 6-0 in region play.

Loganville fell to 3-5 overall, 2-3 region.

The Red Devils stopped Clarke’s first drive then leaped on the scoreboard with Cooper Kennedy’s 63-yard touchdown pass.

Devin Pugh kicked it to 7-0, then added a 37-yard field goal after a Dylan Robbins fumble recovery got the ball back for the Devils.

But after the next Loganville drive failed to go far, Clarke started on the Devils’ side of the 50-yard line. That set up Kendrick Curry’s 7-yard touchdown run with just 11 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Cooper Evans’ kick cut it to 10-7.

The teams swapped possessions in a largely messy second quarter, but the Glads broke through late with Lucian Anderson III throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass to John Eli Warrington just 35 seconds before halftime.

The Red Devils scored on their first possession of the second half as Avery Hamilton broke off a 57-yard touchdown run. Pugh’s PAT made it 17-14 just over one minute into the third quarter.

Clarke answered on another Anderson-to-Warrington touchdown pass, this one for 32 yards midway through the third quarter.

Loganville had a chance to retake the lead early in the fourth quarter as Eric Jones returned a punt 33 yards, all the way to the Clarke 20-yard line, but Pugh missed a 26-yard field goal.

Clarke responded with a drive capped by a 14-yard Jadayvion Adkins touchdown run to make it a 27-17 Gladiators lead.

Loganville got the ball back and drove the length of the field, ending on Hamilton’s 3-yard touchdown run with 5:45 to play.

That cut it to 27-24, and both teams had their chances after that but could go no further. A Loganville drive ended on an incomplete fourth-and-15 pass, turning the ball over on downs and giving Clarke Central a chance to run out the clock.

Kennedy had 131 yards passing for the Gladiators while Hamilton contributed 72 yards on the ground for Loganville.

Clarke Central plays host to crosstown rival Cedar Shoals in a non-region game Thursday. Loganville plays host to Apalachee on Friday.

Correspondent

Greg Yarman is an educator in Walton County and a correspondent for The Walton Tribune.

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