FLOWERY BRANCH — Austin Brown continues to become more comfortable in Flowery Branch's offense.
And the defense is helping him, too.
Brown threw for four first-half touchdowns and the Falcons defense forced seven turnovers as they breezed to a 49-0 win over Rockdale County on Friday night at Falcon Field.
For the Falcons (5-0, 5-0 Region 8-AAAA), it was their third shutout this season. The struggling Bulldogs (2-3, 2-3) managed to lower their season scoring average from 5.75 points to 4.6.
"We started out fast and got on them quick," said Brown, a senior and first-year starter for the Falcons after transferring from Habersham Central. "Our receivers did a great job being smart with the ball and getting open.
"I have great talent around me and they're making it easy for me."
Brown finished the game 21 of 24 for 248 yards and four scores.
The Falcons defense helped to put the game away by halftime. Rockdale County's possessions in the first half were punt, fumble lost, punt, fumble lost, punt blocked and interception.
"Our defense tries to get turnovers and that's what we feed off of," said Falcons senior defensive back Kyle Famiano, who made several tackles for loss. "We want our offense to do well and have good field position."
The blocked punt and interception both came inside the four-minute mark of the second quarter, both placed the Falcons offense inside the Bulldogs 10 and both resulted in Brown passing touchdowns.
Flowery Branch led 35-0 at halftime.
The Bulldogs had a helping hand in the Falcons' shutout. They opened the second half with a 12-play, five-minute drive that put them on the Falcons 7, but lost another fumble.
On their next possession, they marched from their own 11 to the Falcons 2, only to draw two 15-yard personal foul penalties on one play. That possession ended with Falcons sophomore defensive back Quinton Mayfield intercepting Darion Clark's pass and returning it 58 yards to the Bulldogs' 32.
Four plays later, Brody Thomas scored on an option play, bringing the score to 42-0.
"It's frustrating making silly mistakes to let them get easy scores," Bulldogs coach Mike Etheridge said. "I mean, they're a good football team, but we're a lot better than this."
The fourth quarter featured a running clock due to the Georgia High School Association's mercy rule, and the Falcons' second unit preserved the shutout by forcing two more turnovers.
Sophomore Jimmy McIntyre's 5-yard scoring run with 1:34 remaining brought the score to its final margin and sent the Falcons into their bye week on a high note.
"Any time you can get a shutout, sometimes it's unexpected," Falcons coach Lee Shaw said. "You never go into a game thinking you're just going to shut a team out - especially a team as athletic as Rockdale.
"But we'll take it."