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Gainesville routs Harris County to advance in playoffs

Red Elephants travel to Whitewater for AAAAA semifinal

POSTED: November 30, 2012 11:27 p.m.

HAMILTON — Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said he figured his offense would be able to score points Friday against Harris County. What he was concerned about was how the defense would fare against one of the state’s most productive running backs.

He needn’t have worried.

The Red Elephants exploded for 28 unanswered points in the second quarter after a tight first, and the defense all but shut down the Tigers’ ground-based attack as Gainesville routed the hosts 64-13 in Tiger Stadium in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.

Gainesville (10-3) will travel to Whitewater High on Friday in Fayetteville for its second consecutive state semifinal appearance. Harris County finishes the program’s best season at 8-5.

“I thought we could score on them, but I was a little concerned whether we could stop them,” Miller said. “But our guys did a great job. It was a full team effort.”

Deshaun Watson once again led the Red Elephants’ potent spread offense, throwing for 427 yards on 31-of-39 passing and five touchdowns, and running for another 145 yards on 13 carries and two more touchdowns.

Watson’s favorite target was Caleb Hayman, who finished with seven catches for 124 yards and three touchdowns.

Harris County running back Esaias Chapman, who came into the game with 2,000 yards rushing, finished with 119 yards on 13 carries, but just one score.

“Our defense really did a great job of containing him,” Miller said.

The offense did just as much by quickly running up the score and forcing the Tigers to pass and get away from what got them to the quarterfinals.

Gainesville finished with 715 total yards of offense, even with backups playing much of the second half, and the Red Elephants defense held Harris County to 296 yards, 228 rushing.

The contest was really only in the balance for a quarter, after which the Red Elephants turned it into a rout. Watson said the offense just found its rhythm, while many of the two-way Harris County defenders were having trouble keeping up.

“We were just clicking tonight,” he said. “And in this offense, once we’re clicking, it’s hard to stop us.”

The offense didn’t take long to click.

Gainesville won the opening toss and deferred to the second half, and took advantage by holding Harris County to a three-and-out on the game’s first possession. On the Red Elephants’ first possession, they went six plays, capped off by a 27-yard run by Watson to go ahead 7-0.

The Red Elephants went 69 yards in nine plays on their next drive, with Watson finding Hayman on a 21-yard touchdown pass, the first of three straight touchdown hook-ups for the pair. Newton ran it in for the two-point conversion, and Gainesville took a 15-0 lead with 4:57 in the quarter.

Harris County finally forced Gainesville to punt on its third possession, and the Tigers took advantage immediately, as Chapman broke a couple of tackles and ran 40 yards for the score on the first play of the drive, getting the hosts within one score at 15-7.

Gainesville took back the momentum in the second quarter and didn’t look back, scoring 28 straight points to take a 43-7 lead at the half.

Watson found Hayman again to start the second half and, after one of the Red Elephants’ two possessions in eight in the first half to end in a punt, Watson found Hayman again to finish another drive and put Gainesville up 29-7.

Watson ran for a touchdown on the next drive, and then the Red Elephants executed a successful onside kick with just 35 seconds remaining in the half, and Watson hit Tray Harrison on the first play for a 44-yard touchdown pass to put Gainesville ahead 43-7 at the half.

Gainesville’s longest scoring drive in the half lasted just one minute, 57 seconds, and the Red Elephants compiled 457 yards of offense.

Watson led the team to another score, finished with a 14-yard pass to Michael Byrd, after halftime to take a 50-7 lead, and then threw another pass to Jay Gaudlock on the following drive to go ahead 57-7 midway through the third, at which point Gainesville subbed out many of its starters.

Kicker Gage Turner converted all eight of his extra point attempts for Gainesville.

Harris County was making its first quarterfinal appearance in the school’s 56-year history.


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