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The Cedartown Bulldogs clinched a third-place spot in the playoffs with a big second-half turnaround for a 29-7 win over Chapel Hill.

Cedartown held the Panthers to negative yardage in the second half and scored three unanswered touchdowns to come back from a 7-6 deficit at the half.

Head coach Doyle Kelley admitted the team didn’t play as well in the first half, but turned it around in the locker room for the comeback.

“I challenged the team to come back out and win it, and they did that extremely well,” Kelley said.

He added his praise for a defense that held the Panthers to just 150 yards and a single second-quarter score from 3 yards out by Imani Davis.

Cedartown’s offense played flat through most of the first half, and it wasn’t until late in the half before the Bulldogs responded to the Panthers’ score with a Kobe Pryor 36-yard touchdown run.

The Bulldogs (5-5, 4-2 5-4A) put up 321 yards of offense, with 298 of those on the ground spread between Pryor, Johnson and CJ Washington.

Johnson was 4-of-9 for 23 yards passing and the lone touchdown and gave up no interceptions against the Chapel Hill defense. The Bulldogs lost a pair of fumbles, including one on a punt that hit a Cedartown return man in the helmet and came up as a Panthers’ ball.

Chapel Hill (5-5, 2-4) also gave up three turnovers on interceptions, including a big return back down the field for freshman Reece Tanner. Micah Arbuthnot grabbed two more from Panthers quarterback Jomaurie Hester. He went 12-of-17 for 87 yards passing.

The Bulldogs now head into the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs next Friday against Marist. Kelley said his Bulldogs will be ready for next week.

“We’ve been there before and we know what they do,” he said. “We expect a hard fight on the road.”

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