Falcons 29, War Eagles 0
Difference maker: Flowery Branch’s Cortez Davis had a 66-yard touchdown run in the third quarter on a drive that started after he made an interception.
Stat that matters: One first down for Chestatee in the first two quarters. Flowery Branch’s defense held down the War Eagles while building a 22-0 lead at the half.
Turning point: Flowery Branch scored twice in the first 90 seconds of the second quarter to take control for good.
Jeremiah Goss took a short pass from Nick Lance 63 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. Then, three plays after Chestatee lost a fumble, the Falcons used a 29-yard Lance touchdown pass to Hayden Colee for a 22-0 edge.
Who’s next: Flowery Branch (1-0) has a week off before starting Region 8-AAAAA play at Lanier on Sept. 12. Chestatee (0-1) plays another Hall County rivalry contest as it visits West Hall next Friday.
A stifling defense and a freshman quarterback led Flowery Branch to a decisive victory against Chestatee on Friday night in the Hall County rivals’ first matchup since 2009.
The Falcons limited the War Eagles to 91 yards and five first downs while Nick Lance threw for 179 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-0 Flowery Branch win in the season opener for both teams.
“Our defense, they won the game tonight, no doubt about it,” Flowery Branch coach Chris Griffin said. “I don’t care what happened offensively. The fact that coach (David) Wagner and the defensive guys were able to go out and hold those guys to little or nothing, that’s awesome.”
Lance stepped in for Jasen Johnson, who had been slated to start at quarterback for Flowery Branch. Johnson was dressed out Friday but didn’t play.
“We threw him in there because of something else that happened,” said Griffin, declining to elaborate on why Johnson didn’t play. “He went in there and shined.”
Griffin didn’t even mind Lance’s lone interception, which was snagged by Chestatee’s Baylee Camp early in the fourth quarter. It came on third-and-long and ended up being more like a punt.
A pair of touchdowns in the first two minutes of the second quarter pushed the Falcons ahead 22-0 and broke the game open.
All 91 yards came on the ground for Chestatee, which averaged 2.1 yards per carry.
Jeremiah Goss had 150 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns for Flowery Branch, which also got a 66-yard touchdown run and an interception from Cortez Davis.
Davis said his team’s defense came through on its biggest goal.
“Defensively, the main thing we wanted to do was stop the run,” Davis said.
Goss had a 47-yard run that went for naught when an errant snap on a field goal kept the Falcons from scoring midway through the opening quarter.
But Goss and Flowery Branch took advantage when a high snap on a possible punt on the ensuing drive for Chestatee set up the Falcons at the War Eagle 36.
“We’ve just got to learn to quit beating ourselves,” Chestatee coach Bill Forman said. “Self-inflicted wounds cost us all night. Penalties, bad snaps, giving up long third-down conversions. We’ve got to learn to compete in certain situations. We’ve got to get in shape.”
Eight plays later, Goss’ 10-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion run by Hayden Colee gave Flowery Branch an 8-0 lead with 2:15 remaining in the first quarter.
Goss’ 63-yard catch-and-run touchdown reception from Lance on the opening play of the second quarter capped a three-play, 65-yard drive and pushed it to 15-0 with 11:46 left in the first half.
A fumble by Chestatee two plays into its next drive allowed the Falcons to punch in another score just 72 seconds later.
This time, it was Lance connecting with Colee on a 29-yard touchdown pass at the 10:34 mark of the second quarter.
“He did a great job,” Davis said. “He was comfortable in the pocket.”
Forman said his defense tried to rattle Lance but wasn’t able to.
“We were trying to dial up some pressures and take some shots at him, calculated risks sometimes,” Forman said. “They didn’t pay off for us. Sometimes they did. Sometimes they didn’t.”
Davis’ interception on the first drive of the third quarter began a six-play, 85-yard drive capped by his long scoring run.
Marvin Rosario had 11 carries for 65 yards to pace the War Eagles.
“We had some young kids that really competed well,” Forman said. “So I’m real pleased with that. That’s some depth that we can move forward with. There’s some bright spots.”
Both teams had four turnovers. Chestatee had no penalties.
Chestatee (0-1) plays at West Hall next Friday, and Flowery Branch (1-0) has a week off before beginning Region 8-AAAAA play at Lanier on Sept. 12.