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West beats East in inaugural all-star classic

Gainesville's Turner kicks three field goals for West

POSTED: December 20, 2013 10:45 p.m.
Jared Putnam | The Times/

Gainesville wide receiver Jay Gaudlock hauls in a 6-yard touchdown pass during the second quarter of Friday night's East/West Classic at City Park Stadium.

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Being on a team with an offense as prolific as Gainesville’s, Gage Turner hadn’t attempted more than two field goal kicks in a single game throughout his high school career.

But while participating in the inaugural Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s East/West Classic on Friday night in his home stadium, Turner was able to put together a career night.

Turner booted three field goals to lift the West squad over the East 16-7 at City Park Stadium.

“That was awesome, definitely,” Turner said. “I scored 10 points? Yeah. It was awesome. I don’t even know what to say.

“There was no rush or anything, but it still felt like a game.”

A game created to help showcase the talent in Hall County and nearby Banks County, Friday night allowed some of the area’s best football players one last chance to shine in front of several college scouts, or just play one final football game before hanging up the pads for good.

Regardless of the outcome, the night was well-received by the 70 players who participated, the coaches who volunteered their time and the large crowd that packed the stands.

“What an amazing experience the FCA put on here,” said East Hall coach Bryan Gray, the head coach of the East team. “These kids, look at them, they couldn’t be any happier. As coaches, we were lucky to work with such great kids, and really just do a positive thing to help missions and help the FCA.”

Friday’s event was the first of its kind in Hall County, but many believe it will return next year and in years to come.

“It is a special week, just being able to relate with all the coaches and all the players from all the different teams,” said Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell, who coached the West team to victory.

“This is just a really fun week, just working football and enjoying the camaraderie amongst the schools. What a great event for FCA and this community.”

Turner kicked field goals of 47, 33 and 46 yards on the night, making the kicks without a rush from the opposing team, a limit placed on the game to reduce injury. The three field goals were the difference in the game.

Each team had just three two-hour practices this week to prepare for the game. Despite the lack of time to practice as a team, the game was fairly evenly played.

“I think it is a testament to the coaches and the quality of players we have in this area, that they are able to come out and play a game,” Luttrell said. “It’s just a great group of young men and a great group of coaches. It was a fun experience.”

The West team opened the scoring midway through the opening quarter when Turner made his 47-yard field goal.

The East team quickly responded. Riverside Military’s Collin Pettell connected with Flowery Branch’s Cameron Davis on a 48-yard pass down the right sideline, moving the East team deep into the West’s territory.

Two plays later, Pettell threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Flowery Branch’s A’lencio Graham, making the score 7-3.

For Pettell, it was a shining moment for the senior, who admitted he had been looking forward to playing a game inside City Park Stadium.

“I felt really honored to be picked by my coaches, and especially to play here,” Pettell said. “I’ve always driven by (City Park Stadium) and I’ve always said I wanted to play here. But it was definitely fun playing with the kids from around the area.”

The West team regained the lead in the second quarter, when North Hall’s Andrew Smith, who is committed to play football at the Air Force Academy, connected with Gainesville’s Jay Gaudlock — who is currently in the midst of basketball season — for a 6-yard score in the corner of the end zone.

The score gave the West team a 10-7 halftime lead.

Turner kicked a field goal in each the third and fourth quarter. In the third, he kicked a 33-yarder that made the score 13-7, before adding a 46-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

The West team forced two turnovers on the night, both interceptions off Pettell. North Hall’s Brannon Dyer intercepted a pass in the third quarter, while Chestatee’s Blake Buffington intercepted a pass on the East’s final drive of the game.

The West team finished the game with 267 total yards of offense, while the East finished with 222 yards.

North Hall’s Zach Little led all rushers with a game-high 150 yards on 22 carries, while Smith finished with 72 yards for the West. Smith was knocked out of the game late in the fourth quarter when he was hit from behind while throwing a pass.

He was helped off the field with what was believed to be a concussion, according to Luttrell.

For the East, Cameron Davis finished with 106 yards rushing and 48 yards receiving. In the passing game, Pettell threw for 116 yards on the night, as nine different receivers caught passes for the East team.

“We had a number of colleges here tonight and hopefully something will break for (one of the players),” Gray said. “And that is going to be exciting. They deserve it. Both teams have quality players.

“We have great talent in this area and we just have to get more of these (college) schools across America to quit stopping in Gwinnett and come up here and see what great talent we have to offer.”

NOTES: Prior to kickoff on Friday night, Gov. Nathan Deal presented longtime Gainesville High public address announcer Walt Snelling with a proclamation, as the game marked Snelling’s final game as the public address announcer at City Park Stadium. ... Banks County linebacker Jonathon Dempsey, a member of the East team, kicked a 25-yard field goal during a timeout midway through the fourth quarter after his mother won the FCA raffle, presented by Milton Martin Toyota of Gainesville. Dempsey’s kick was worth $3,000, but he and his mother were given the $5,000 prize, which was the award for successfully making a 30-yard field goal.


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