The Lions defeated Laney 35-33 in a Class AA quarterfinal game and will now host Brooks County in a semifinal contest at Kilpatrick Stadium Friday at 7:30 p.m.
It’s the third time in five years and the fourth time in eight seasons that Lovett (12-1) – which advanced to the AA quarterfinals last year — has reached the state final four.
A win would advance Lovett to its first state championship game appearance since 2007 and would play either Lamar County — which beat the Lions in the quarterfinals last year — or Benedictine in the AA finals at the Georgia Dome Dec. 12.
It didn’t look like Lovett would make it to the final four as they trailed Brooks County 20-7 at halftime.
However, the Lions roared back with three touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 28-20 lead, with Grant Haley scoring on a 57-yard run with 6:09 remaining in the game to provide the winning margin at the end.
Haley finished with 219 yards and four touchdowns to lead the way for Lovett.
Marist (11-2) earned its second consecutive semifinal berth with a 42-20 victory over Burke County in a AAAA quarterfinal game last Friday.
The War Eagles will now host Carrollton in a AAAA semifinal contest at Hughes Spalding Stadium Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Marist did it all on the ground as it rushed for 427 yards, including 258 in the first half, and did not throw a single pass or punt in the entire game.
The War Eagles led 21-13 at halftime and proceeded to outscore Burke County 21-7 in the second half to clinch the win.
Chase Martensen rushed for four touchdowns, including a 57-yard score in the third quarter, while Marcus Miller had two rushing scores to lead Marist.
The season came for an end for Holy Innocents’ (7-5) as the Golden Bears fell just short of their first state semifinal appearance with a 15-7 loss to Mount Pisgah Christian in a Class A private school semifinal game last Friday.
Holy Innocents’ took a 7-0 lead on a 45-yard touchdown run by Clay Pfohl in the first quarter, but Mount Pisgah responded with two touchdowns of its own in the second period to clinch the win.
Nevertheless, making the state quarterfinals was a big achievement for a Golden Bear squad that was 3-4 at one point before winning four games in a row.
“I know there’s nothing I can say to the seniors to make their pain go away – nothing will do that, except time,” Holy Innocents’ coach Ryan Livezey said. “Still, in all my years of coaching, I have never been more proud of a team for turning a season around. A few weeks ago, we were 3-4 and looking at a potential losing season. These kids stared at a hole and fought their way out of it.”
St. Pius X (9-4) came up short in its bid for a second consecutive trip to the AAA finals with a 35-21 loss to Callaway in a quarterfinal contest last Friday.
The Golden Lions took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 39-yard field goal by Thomas O’Leary, but Callaway proceeded to score two touchdowns in the first half and never trailed after that.
O’Leary added a 22-yard field goal in the second quarter, while Joey Connors scored on a three-yard run in the third period and Nick Ruffin contributed a 23-yard touchdown scamper in the final stanza.