Staff Photo: John Bohn Greater Atlanta Christian quarterback Rafe Chappie(12) scores a touchdown to set the score of the game at 20 to 14, the lead going to GAC on this play. Watching are GAC's Chris Williams (8) and Wesleyan's Charles Mack (18) during the the third quarter of Friday's game.
NORCROSS -- Rafe Chapple's three older brothers never won a region championship at Greater Atlanta Christian.
The youngest of four siblings will get his chance to win a title next week.
Chapple accounted for four touchdowns as No. 8 GAC defeated its Norcross private school rival Wesleyan 42-20 on Friday. The victory put GAC in the Region 6-AA title game against Lovett next week.
"I'm excited," Chapple said. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. Hopefully, we can capitalize on it."
Chapple's older brothers Lee, Colton and Jared guided GAC to playoff seasons, but never a region championship. The Spartans (7-2, 3-0) need one more victory in the five-team Region 6-AA to capture the first region crown since 2001.
"Regardless, we've got to win four games to be region champs," GAC head coach Tim Hardy said. "That's our goal."
GAC's offensive spark plug this season has been running back Kyle Scales. The senior was hampered by an injury on Friday and was held to just 58 yards rushing on seven carries. He picked up 33 of those yards on one run. With Scales limited, that opened the door for Chapple.
"Coach Hardy said be prepared to be a leader and take the reins," Chapple said.
Chapple was 14 of 17 passing for 216 yards and two touchdowns. The senior also added 50 yards rushing and two scores.
"We tried to put pressure on him and couldn't bring him down and that's credit to him," Wesleyan head coach Franklin Pridgen said.
Chapple scored on a seven-yard run late in the third quarter to give GAC a 21-14 lead. The Spartans never trailed again, reeling off 21-straight points in the fourth quarter.
After Chapple's TD run, Micah Abernathy scored on an 18-yard run. GAC's Andrew Bartolomei had a sack and Chris Williams recovered a Wesleyan fumble. Chapple threw a 44-yard TD pass to Peter Whitneck with 7:16 left in the game to give GAC a 35-14 lead.
"That was pretty much the knockout punch," Chapple said.
Corey Stevenson added the third fourth-quarter TD on a 13-yard run. Wesleyan's Will Anderson threw a nine-yard TD pass to Christian Stark with no time left in the game to make it 42-20.
Anderson is one of the state's top passers in Class AA and was 22 of 36 for 191 yards and two TDs. He completed passes to six different receivers, including 10 to Jahmai Jones for 89 yards.
It's the third straight loss and fifth in six games for Wesleyan (4-6, 1-3). The Wolves have qualified for the playoffs and will be the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AA.
"The kids played their hearts out as always," Pridgen said. "Nobody expected us to be in this game. Our kids played hard and I'm sick of them not being able to enjoy the fruits of their work."
Wesleyan recovered the game's opening kickoff at GAC's 23. Anderson threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Charles Mack for a 7-0 lead.
It took GAC three possessions before it was finally able to move the ball. A 15-yard completion by Chapple to Williams on third down kept the drive alive. The duo hooked up again two plays later for a 35-yard touchdown catch by Williams to tie the game 7-7. Williams had seven catches for 119 yards.
GAC's Bartolomei batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage on third down to give the Spartans the ball back with 1:05 left in the half. The Spartans covered 70 yards on six plays. Chapple threw a 23-yard pass to Darius Slayton at the one and used a QB sneak for the TD to give GAC a 14-7 halftime lead.
"It was a huge momentum swing," Hardy said.
Wesleyan opened the second-half with a 10-play scoring drive finished off by Miles Smith on a three-yard TD run. Smith finished with 51 yards rushing.
Then Chapple guided a nearly six-minute scoring drive to eat up most of the third quarter. His seven-yard TD gave GAC the lead and they never looked back.
"It was a critical time in the game and we executed," Hardy said. "Our guys did a nice job. We played hard stayed the course."