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Cedar Grove ends Gainesville's season, 34-25

Red Elephants season ends at 10-2 with second-round home playoff loss

POSTED: November 20, 2010 12:23 a.m.

Cedar Grove at Gainesville

Prep football coverage from Nov. 19, 2010: Cedar Grove at Gainesville.

SCOTT ROGERS /The Times

Gainesville High head coach Bruce Miller reacts to a Red Elephant penalty during the first half of the team's Friday night second round playoff game with Cedar Grove at Bobby Gruhn Field.

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The sullen look on Gainesville High's coach Bruce Miller said it all.

A year removed from finishing second in Class AAA, and despite holding an edge in every offensive category, the Red Elephants lost 34-25 to Cedar Grove during the second round of the Class AAA playoffs Friday night at City Park.

"Just missed opportunities," Miller said after the loss. "The kids have fought all year long and didn't listen to the naysayers. They chartered their own course and played their butts off all year."

Especially in their final game of the season, where Gainesville (10-2) had 274 rushing yards, 127 passing yards and had eight more first downs than the Saints (9-3).

After battling back and forth with the Saints in the second half, it looked as if Gainesville was going to escape with a win when senior Kendrick Millsap intercepted a pass intended for Vincent Dallas on the Gainesville 4-yard line. Millsap's eight interception of the year, and second of the game, followed a 21-yard field goal by Reid Almand that gave Gainesville a 25-22 lead. It was the first field goal kicked this year by Gainesville.

Cedar Grove's defense stopped the Red Elephants on their possession, though, and with 6:54 left in the game, the Saints marched down the field to take a 28-25 lead on Jonathan McCrary's third touchdown of the night.

With 5:17 left to play, Gainesville tried to mount a comeback, but Tarvis Hall intercepted a tipped pass from Deshaun Watson to end the drive.

Cedar Grove's Marlon Coley scored on a 53-yard run minutes later to secure the win.

"I can't say enough about the kids," said Cedar Grove coach Ray Bonner, who, as the head coach of
Columbia, defeated Gainesville in 1981 to win the North Georgia Championship. "Our kids keep overcoming everything, and it's satisfying for our community, school and everyone involved."

The Saints certainly had to earn this win, as Gainesville's defense held the vaunted Saints passing game to zero yards in the first half. But with the way they were rushing the ball, the Saints didn't need much from their aerial attack.

Freshman Dione Sellars led the team with 91 rushing yards with the bulk of those yards coming on a 63-yard score in the third quarter that gave Cedar Grove a 14-7 lead.

Gainesville answered with a 10-play drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by A.J. Johnson, but then the Saints finally got things going in the passing game.

Entering the game with 2,874 passing yards, McCrary displayed his arm strength on the ensuing drive that included a 42-yard pass to Desi Banks and a 13-yard strike to Vincent Dallas. McCrary capped the drive with a 7-yard run to give Cedar Grove a 22-14 lead.

"With a kid like that, and with the folks he has to throw to, he's going to hit some passes," Miller said of McCrary, who had 124 passing yards and scored three rushing touchdowns.

Gainesville's young signal caller, freshman Deshaun Watson, tied the game on the ensuing possession with a 4-yard run. That touchdown ended a 10-play drive that featured nine rushing plays and 19 yards by senior Devon Pierce, 17 yards by Markece Robertson and 30 yards by Watson. Devon Pierce led Gainesville with 106 yards on 15 carries and fellow senior Markece Robertson ended the night with 89 yards rushing and a touchdown.

An interception by Johnson during Cedar Grove's next possession put Gainesville at the Cedar Grove 25, but the Saints defense stopped the Red Elephants on third-and-goal from the 4 to set up Almand's field goal that gave Gainesville a lead it couldn't hold.

"It's always disappointing," Miller said of the loss. "It doesn't matter if you go out in the state championship or in the first round.

"It hurts for the seniors," he added. "This was their last chance to play on this field."

Although Gainesville loses a wealth of talent on the defense, including an All-State linebacker in Johnson, the offense is filled with young players ready to make another run at a title next year.

But Miller doesn't want to think about that.

"At this point, you don't look ahead," he said.

Gainesville's season is now complete. 



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