GAINESVILLE — One week after losing on a last second field goal to No.3-ranked Wesleyan, Elbert County left no doubt to the outcome of Friday's game.
The Blue Devils scored five times in the first quarter to run away from East Hall 48-13 and the duo of Tyshon Dye and Valdon Cooper combined for 288 total yards in a decisive win.
Turnovers plagued the Vikings' offense and special teams which led to three fumbles and one interception in the first half alone and entered halftime trailing 34-7.
"We can't shoot ourselves in the foot," East Hall coach Bryan Gray said. "We have to come out and take care of the ball and in the first quarter we turned the ball over on a great team. The second, third and fourth quarter we settled down and played well."
Elbert's first score came on its seventh play from scrimmage as quarterback Hunter Blackmon found some room behind his offensive line on a third-and-1 for a 13-yard run, putting the Blue Devils up 6-0 with 8:56 left in the first quarter.
An East Hall fumble on the ensuing kickoff led to another quick Elbert County score, as Dye went around the left end from 14 yards out and he also scored the two point conversion to make it 14-0 with 8:31 left in the first quarter. Four plays later, another East Hall fumble led to another quick score as Blackmon found a streaking Jareece Norman on a post route to put the Blue Devils up 28-0 with 6:30 left in the first quarter.
The final score of the quarter for the Blue Devils came from Cooper, who took a toss sweep 60 yards down the right sideline to make the score 34-0 after only one quarter of play.
East Hall bounced back thanks to the running of Jamond Witt. Witt took a handoff up the middle, broke several tacklers, and sprinted to the end zone for an 89-yard jaunt to make the score 34-7. Witt finished the first half with 130 yards on only six carries.
The second half started off very well for Elbert County, as Cooper fielded a punt at his own 10, broke a few tackles along the right sideline and outraced the Viking defenders to put his team up 41-7 seconds into the third quarter. Dye's third touchdown run capped the scoring for the night.
"No. 22 (Dye) is the best back in the state," Gray said. "He's phenomenal."
The East Hall offense started to gain momentum in the middle of the fourth quarter as Carlos Negron scored from 2 yards out with 1:17 left to cap an 11-play drive for the Vikings. The drive was helped by the running of quarterback Zach Groover, who had several long runs to help put the Vikings in scoring position for Negron's score.
For East Hall, Witt finished the game with 151 yards on 12 carries with one touchdown. He also added two catches for 11 yards. "We're very excited about the future with the combo of Zach Groover and Jamond Witt," Gray said. "There's a lot to build on and look forward to with this team.
"When you play the good teams you can't turn the ball over and expect to win," he added. "They're a heck of team and there's a reason they could go deep in the playoffs. They're well-coached, well-disciplined and I hope that we can get to week 10 and face them again."