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Gainesville advances with 51-12 win over South Paulding

Red Elephants continue Class AAAAA title defense against Mundy's Mill at home next week

POSTED: November 22, 2013 11:34 p.m.

THE BLITZ: South Paulding at Gainesville

High school football highlights from South Paulding at Gainesville, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 at City Park in Gainesville.


Gainesville High quarterback Deshaun Watson carries the ball for the Red Elephants as he breaks through the South Paulding defense for a big gain during the first half of Friday's second-round Class AAAAA playoff game at City Park Stadium.

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Out of all the impressive things Gainesville did in its second-round playoff win against South Paulding, it was a brilliant third quarter that stood out the most. The Red Elephants (11-1) scored touchdowns on all four offensive possessions in the third period, while stifling the Spartans’ offense, to secure a 51-12 win at City Park Stadium.

“We played super in the second half,” Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said. “Our offensive line was absolutely great out there and gave our playmakers enough time to make plays.”

With the win, Gainesville advances to the state quarterfinals for the third consecutive season and will host Mundy’s Mill (8-4) on Friday in Gainesville.

Gainesville knew a complete performance recently was the only thing lacking after less-than-stellar second half showings in wins the last two weeks against Flowery Branch and M.L. King. Against South Paulding (10-2), Gainesville left nothing in question.

Red Elephants senior quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for 432 yards and five touchdowns while adding a game-high 107 rushing yards. Jay Gaudlock and Chastin Newman each had athletic touchdown grabs for Gainesville and both went over 100 yards receiving. The Red Elephants finished the night with 644 yards of offense.

Even with its dominating second-round win, Watson knows that there’s no easy road to get back to the Georgia Dome to try and defend Gainesville’s Class AAAAA state title from 2012.

“We’re very confident in how we’re playing right now, but we have to be ready to play again next week because there’s not any slouches left,” said Watson, who is signed with Clemson University and went over 3,000 yards passing for the season Friday.

No play set the stage for the second half like Watson’s smooth-sailing spiral that Orrin Ragland caught after an incredible sprint underneath the pass. It went for a 67-yard touchdown pass to go ahead 24-6 late in the first half. While it looked like Watson had overshot his receiver, Gainesville’s quarterback said it was just exactly where he wanted it for Ragland to chase it down over his shoulder.

“Orrin can go,” said Miller, beaming from the win. “He’s got jets.”

With the lift going into halftime, it was almost all Gainesville in the second half. In the third quarter, junior running back Michael Byrd scored on a pair of short runs. The Red Elephants also had a pair of highlight-reel touchdown catches from their receivers in the third quarter.

On a fourth-and-13 at the Spartans’ 29, Watson threaded a passes into the end zone that Chastin Newman (three catches and 100 yards) caught and held onto after taking hard hits from a pair of defenders. Shortly thereafter, Watson found Gaudlock (10 catches, 134 yards) in the end zone and the Red Elephants receiver dove to his side to make the catch for the score.

In the second half, Gainesville was just as strong on defense against South Paulding’s spread offense and strong running quarterback Chandler Burks, who finished with 109 passing yards and 101 rushing. The Spartans only big play in the second half was a 51-yard scoring run from Jae Bowen.

Burks scored South Paulding’s other touchdown in the first half on a 35-yard run up the middle on a fourth-and-3 play in the first quarter, already trailing 10-0 before the score.

Gainesville jumped to a lead early with a pair of touchdown grabs by Rodney Lackey: a 20-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, then a 13-yard scoring catch in the second quarter. He finished the game with five catches for 92 yards.

After Gainesville senior linebacker Devan Stringer intercepted Burks’ pass on the first drive of the game, it jumped on the board when Gage Turner drilled a 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Next up, the Red Elephants face the Tigers, the No. 2 seed from Region 4-AAAAA. On Friday, Mundy’s Mill upset Region 1-AAAAA champion Lee County 41-35 in Leesburg.


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