Robert Jones rushed for 256 yards and two touchdowns to lead the No. 2 ranked Cedar Grove Saints to a 30-6 Class 3A semifinal victory over the No. 9 ranked Pierce County Bears at Godfrey Stadium on Friday night.
The win puts Coach Jimmy Smith’s Saints into the Class 3A state championship game for the second time in three years with a trip to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Tuesday, December 11 at 1:00 pm against No. 4 ranked Peach County (12-2). The Trojans knocked off the undefeated and defending champions Calhoun Yellow Jackets 22-7 on Friday night in a rematch of last year’s controversial state title game won by Calhoun.
It only took one play for Jones to set the tone for Cedar Grove (13-1) as he took the handoff on the Saints’ first offensive play and went 78 yards down the middle of the field into the end zone for the touchdown. Luis Dominguez converted the PAT for a 7-0 Saints lead with 9:14 to play in the first quarter.
The Saints’ defense forced a three and out that turned into a safety as the snap sailed over Pierce County’s punter into the end zone where he knocked it out of the back of the end zone to prevent a touchdown. Cedar Grove was up 9-0 just 4 minutes and 17 seconds into the game.
Pierce County had to free kick from its own 20 and keeping it away from Saints’ All-State receiver Jadon Haselwood the ball went to Rashad Jordan who fielded the ball at the 35, turned up the speed and raced 65 yards into the end zone. Dominguez was good again on the PAT to make it a 16-0 just 13 seconds after the safety.
The score remained 16-0 until Pierce County quarterback Jermaine Brewton squeezed into the end zone with 8:28 to play in the first half to cut the lead to 16-6. A try for the two-point conversion was stopped short of the goal line by the Saints swarming defense.
Cedar Grove answered the Bears’ touchdown with a nine-play, 78-yard drive that culminated in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Kendall Boney to Jordan crossing across the field for the catch and run into the end zone. Dominguez was good for the third time in the half on the PAT to make it a 23-6 lead for the Saints. Jones had a big 29-yard run in the drive.
Pierce County’s first two drives of the second half netted a negative seven yards and the Saints drove down to the Bears’ 17 before the turned the ball over on downs.
The Bears forced a Saints punt and drove into Cedar Grove territory at the 48 early in the fourth quarter, but a pair of holding calls forced a punt which pinned the Saints at their own 13 with 7:58 to play in the game.
Jones once again needed just one play to seal the game as he got around the left tackle, dodged a defender and raced 87 yards for the touchdown. Dominguez added the PAT for the final of 30-6.
Cedar Grove held the previously undefeated Pierce County to 217 yards of offense and had 12 tackles for a loss to keep the Bears in second and third and long situations most of the night.
Robert Jones became the first DeKalb County running back to go over 1,000 yards this season as his big night put him over 1,100 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns on the season.