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Falcons passing tandem sparks 42-7 win
E-mail taunt from Habersham player helped spark Flowery Branch to sixth victory
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MOUNT AIRY — Flowery Branch's offense had one answer for every third-and-long situation, or any play that required a long pass really: Austin Brown to Logan Conley.

That quarterback-receiver duo — along with a big play each from special teams and defense at the end of the first half — helped the Falcons secure an easy 42-7 win over Habersham Central in Region 8-AAAA play on Friday night at Raider Stadium.

The Falcons moved 6-0 on the season while the Raiders dropped to 2-5.

Conley caught seven passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns and Brown completed 13 of his 21 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns.

The game's first play from scrimmage was a 42-yard pass play from Brown to Conley, which set the tone for a big night for the tandem.

Brown and Conley converted three third-and-long situations into first downs. In consecutive possessions in the third quarter, Conley caught 39- and 25- yard touchdown passes on third down.

"The defense would break down and (Brown) would have a little bit of time, I'd go deep and he'd hit me every time," said Conley, who said he continued to see single coverage throughout the night despite the game's opening play.

"I didn't think I'd get single coverage after halftime, but I did."

The Raiders had a chance to go into halftime trailing 14-7, but Falcons senior defensive end Jeremiah Words blocked a punt with 2:13 remaining in the second quarter, setting Flowery Branch up on the Raiders 33.

Six plays later, with 59.4 seconds remaining, Jeremy Haley's 1-yard touchdown run put the Falcons up 21-7.

Words said an e-mail sent from a Raiders player gave him all the motivation he needed against Habersham Central, which was playing on its homecoming night.

"He said they were going to make us their homecoming queen," Words said. "So we just tried to come out with some momentum, get fired up and come out with the win."

The first play of the Raiders' next possession resulted in a fumble forced by Jonathan Frick and recovered by Scott Tupper, who returned it 39 yards for another score with 41.1 seconds remaining.

The Falcons a 28-7 led at halftime.

"I haven't scored since middle school," said Tupper, who made the switch to defensive end while playing for the junior Falcons. "It was great to get in the end zone."

The second half featured more Brown-to-Conley plays, including a 25-yard touchdown pass with 2:34 remaining.

On third-and-10, Brown rolled to his right with three defenders closing in on him. Just before reaching the sidelines, he heaved a pass to a heavily defended Conley, who leaped and came down with the ball in the right corner of the end zone, keeping a foot inbounds by inches.

The touchdown brought the score to its final margin.

"I looked down right before I jumped and I was pretty close (to going out of bounds)," said Conley, "so I tapped (my feet) in. It was a great throw and he threw it where only I could have caught it."

Falcons coach Lee Shaw liked how his team played coming out of a bye week.

"I thought we came out and popped them," Shaw said. "This was huge for is, because it's always tough coming up to Habersham to play. The kids got a great win tonight."

The Falcons defense limited speedy Raiders quarterback Kevin Ellison to just 75 rushing yards. He had gained more than 200 within the Raiders' option run scheme in his previous two games before sitting out last week with an injury.

"We have experience defending the option," Shaw said. "We used to be a double-slot option team. We just knew you've got to stop the trigger guy and our guys did a good job of doing that."

The Raiders have next week off and coach Stuart Cunningham said the bye couldn't come sooner for his deflated squad.

"Seven weeks is a long time before getting a break," he said. "Especially when you're as young as we are. So our No. 1 priority is to get physically healed up. And No. 2, we need to heal mentally and emotionally. We're hurting right now."

Cunningham also praised Flowery Branch.

"They've got a good team and they may even have a great one, I don't know," he said. "They're certainly one of the top two teams in the region and I don't see anybody but Clarke Central being able to slow them down much."

The Falcons play Clarke Central in the final game of the season in what could determine the 8-AAAA champion.


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