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FLOWERY BRANCH — Jackson McDonald enjoyed the change of scenery Friday night.
The Flowery Branch junior quarterback, backup to graduate Kanler Coker in 2011, was more than happy to watch from the sidelines as the Falcons’ second-string finished up the team’s most lopsided win of the season, 47-14 over Region 8-AAAAA opponent Loganville at Falcon Field.
“That’s a very good feeling to be out of the game getting to watch our (second team),” said McDonald, who accounted for four scores in the rout.
Until Friday, Flowery Branch (2-2, 2-0) hadn’t had a chance to relax this season, being either down or in a close game until the final whistle.
The Falcons were only down for a few minutes in this one.
Loganville quarterback Tony White ran 96 yards for a touchdown on the Red Devils’ first offensive play of the game, taking advantage of a mistake by the Flowery Branch defense.
“We knew it was like a fluke, just a mental error,” said Falcons linebacker Jacob Allen, who had one of the team’s two interceptions in the game. “We just loosened up and didn’t panic.”
The Flowery Branch defense allowed just 18 yards of offense to the Red Devils (1-3, 0-2) the rest of the first half.
The offense went to work, scoring four touchdowns in the first quarter to take a big lead it would never relinquish.
The key play came just after McDonald had thrown a 12-yard touchdown pass to running back Justin Curry (nine carries for 143 yards, one reception for 12 yards, three touchdowns) to cap a 10-play, 70-yard drive to even the score at 7-7 with 6:41 left in the opening quarter.
On the Red Devils first play of the next possession, Allen snared a pass that a fellow defender had tipped, and returned the interception all the way to the Loganville 7-yard line.
McDonald ran in from the 7 for the first of three touchdown runs in the first half, and the Falcons took a 13-7 lead after a missed extra point.
McDonald ran it in from 5 yards out to finish the Falcons’ next drive, which included a 70-yard Curry run, and put Flowery Branch ahead 19-7. After a fumble recovered by the Falcons, Curry ran in from 4 yards to convert another turnover and put Flowery Branch ahead 26-7 after one quarter.
To stop Loganville’s final drive in the first quarter, Falcons’ senior Noel Padmore snared Flowery Branch’s second interception of the day, to go along with two fumble recoveries.
“We had two huge interceptions from two leaders,” Griffin said. “And that was good to see.”
The coach was impressed by the defense, which allowed over 20 points to each of the first three opponents. The unit shut out Loganville after the initial touchdown run; the second unit allowed a fourth quarter Red Devils score.
“I think (Loganville’s early score) woke them up,” Griffin said. “We made an adjustment and they responded.”
It gave the offense room to work.
McDonald finished 9 for 16 passing for 128 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and added 92 yards rushing on seven carries. He scored a third touchdown in the second quarter to give Flowery Branch a commanding 33-7 lead at the half.
Cameron Davis led the team with 66 yards receiving on five receptions.
Darius Curry followed up on his younger brother’s success, running 82 yards for a score in the third on his only carry in his role as backup quarterback.
Loganville was led by White and Bernard Merriweather, who each ran for 98 yards and a score. The passing attack yielded more interceptions (two) than completions (one).
Both teams continue region play next week. Flowery Branch plays Salem next Friday in Conyers, and Loganville hosts Cedar Shoals in Loganville.