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Chapple, Spartans cruise by Model in playoff opener

GAC's Rafe Chapple

GAC's Rafe Chapple

NORCROSS -- Greater Atlanta Christian went into Class AA state playoffs after a heartbreaking loss and with leading rusher Kyle Scales hobbled. The Spartans weren't ready to let some adversity derail them, though. Micah Abernathy filled in well for Scales, quarterback Rafe Chapple had a part in four touchdowns and the GAC defense held Model to three first downs through three quarters in a 35-6 victory Friday night.

So much for any negative carryover from the 31-30 loss to Lovett a week ago that deprived GAC of the Region 6-AA title.

"We have a good football team and we played like it," Spartans coach Tim Hardy said.

GAC (8-3) lost its shutout bid on the last play of the game, but Model (6-5) was held completely in check until then.

"Our defense was outstanding," Hardy said. "That was the key. We played really well on first down and that got Model off schedule. The defense gave the offense good field position and they took advantage of it. It was a good team win."

Chapple, who was 15 of 19 passing for 162 yards, threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, while Abernathy carried 22 times for 129 yards and a score.

"Micah stepped up and really did a nice job," Hardy said of the sophomore. "He's an excellent player and he showed it."

Scales, who rushed for 1,063 yards and 16 touchdowns in the regular season, suffered a leg injury late in the Lovett game.

"Kyle could have played, but we're glad to rest him up a little bit and have him ready for the stretch run," Hardy said.

Next up for the Spartans is a trip to Region 5-AA champion Heard County, which defeated Rabun County in its first-round game.

Model, under first-year coach Gordon Powers, bounced back from a 1-9 record in 2011 to post just its second winning season in 30 years and first since 1999. But the Blue Devils were never in the game against GAC. Model opened with an onside kick, but Jonathan Pickens covered it for GAC and the Spartans drove 57 yards in 14 plays to set the tone for the game. Chapple got the TD on a sneak from a yard out with 6:04 left in the first quarter.

Model punter Dax Bishop was dropped for a 19-yard loss by Andrew Lewis after a bad snap on the Blue Devils' first possession and the Spartans covered the 27 yards on six plays to make it 14-0. Abernathy scored from the 6-yard line on the second play of the second quarter.

A holding penalty wiped out an apparent 54-yard TD pass from Chapple to Peter Whiteneck on GAC's third possession, but Ross Wood pinned Model at the 1-yard line with a punt and Spartans held to get good field position again. GAC covered the 39 yards in just four plays, with Chapple hitting a wide open Chris Williams in the end zone from 12 yards out.

The Spartans couldn't take advantage of an interception and 46-yard return by Wood for a late TD in the second quarter, but was still in complete control at intermission. Model was limited to 21 plays and three first downs in the opening half while GAC compiled 10 first downs and 151 yards. Abernathy gained 83 on 15 carries and Chapple was 6 of 10 passing for 62 yards.

Chapple threw a 20-yard TD pass to David Elrod on GAC's first possession of the second half and then hit Whiteneck from 9 yards out early in the fourth quarter. Whiteneck caught six passes for 63 yards.

Model averted a shutout on the last play of the game when Austin Price caught a 30-yard TD pass from Cameron O'Neal.

GAC finished with 16 first downs to seven for Model and out-gained the Blue Devils 332-148. Jake Rose, a sophomore linebacker, was credited with eight tackles to lead the Spartans and was in on two sacks, sharing one with Price Roberts.