ATLANTA -- The Cedar Grove Saints had an explosive first half and held off a late rally to defeat Greater Atlanta Christain 30-19 in the 3A state championship at the Georgia Dome on Friday.
North Carolina commit Tre Shaw had a touchdown on both sides of the ball to lead the Saints (13-2) to their first state title in the program's history. It was the first title game appearance for the Saints since 1991.
Cedar Grove scored 23 of its points in the first half, but three turnovers in the fourth quarter allowed GAC (13-2) to rally and get it within four points.
Saints quarterback Jelani Woods threw a 17-yard touchdown to Dennis Bell, who jumped up to make the catch with less than two minutes to play. The Saints defense was able to hold off the Spartans to seal the victory.
UGA Bulldogs commit and Cedar Grove lineman Netori Johnson was so excited, he attempted a cartwheel.
Shaw scored the first touchdown for the Saints to give them a lead in the first quarter. After a 55-yard run by Darrell Neal II to put the Saints up by two touchdowns, Shaw intercepted GAC backup quarterback Jonathan Rose's pass and returned it for a touchdown. The Saints missed the extra point to make it 23-3 at halftime.
GAC struggled on offense without starting quarterback Davis Mills, who was injured early in the game on a hit by Jadon Haselwood. He left the game with a knee injury after just six plays. Rose came in at quarterback for GAC.
The Spartans kicked a 40-yard field goal by Brooks Bruce for their first score. They later got inside the Saints' 5-yard line, but failed to score a touchdown on two fourth down conversions. The Saints committed a pass interference on the first try, but the penalty doesn't warrant an automatic first down, according to GHSA rules.
The Spartans made a run late in the game. After a trick play in which freshman quarterback Jackson, who lined up as a receiver, threw a 50-yard pass to get the Spartans in the red zone, Kyler McMichael had a 9-yard touchdown run, but the extra point was missed.
The Spartans recovered three turnovers in the fourth quarter. First, a fumble after a bad snap followed by an interception by Trey Morrison. The interception led to a touchdown pass from Rose to Max Burke to make it a 7-point game with roughly nine minutes left.
Tre Morrison recovered a fumble on the next drive for the Spartans that was stripped by Tony Wyche that led to a 34-yard field goal to get the Spartans within four points.
The Spartans have been to two state championships in three years, but still have not won the trophy.