WINDER — No matter how much Flowery Branch did right Friday night, a mistake seemed to be waiting for it.
The Falcons (3-3, 2-3) suffered five turnovers, two fumbles and three interceptions, had another three more fumbles that halted drives, and committed six penalties for 55 yard in a 24-17 loss to Winder-Barrow.
“We had our chances and we made too many mistakes,” said Flowery Branch head coach Chris Griffin. “It’s disappointing, I think we have a better team than what we showed.”
The Falcons began the game with a 37-yard field goal by Jesus Alvarado, and all seemed well when they recovered a fumble on Winder’s 45-yard line on the Bulldoggs’ ensuing possession. Six plays later, the Falcons surrendered their first turnover when Jasen Johnson lost the ball on a wildcat run.
Their next time with the ball ended in similar fashion when they drove from the 46-yard line to the 23, but Kory Graham threw an interception in the end zone to Joey Junius, which he returned the ball to his 21.
Winder-Barrow used 10 plays, including a facemask penalty on a third down, to score on a 25-yard run by quarterback Brock Landis, giving the Bulldoggs a 7-3 lead with 10:11 left in the half.
The rest of the first half was uneventful until Flowery Branch’s Sean Akins intercepted a pass and gave his team the ball at the 12-yard line. However, the Falcons missed a 37-yard field goal, and went into halftime trailing 7-3.
The Bulldoggs quickly took a 14-3 lead with a 40-yard pass from Landis to Andre Jackson. The Falcons’ next drive ended just as suddenly when Graham threw a pass to an area where only Bulldoggs resided and was intercepted at the 28-yard line.
Winder-Barrow went on another long drive but had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Jesse Zamora to extend the lead to 17-3.
The disaster continued for the Falcons their next time with the ball after fumble and near interception put them at fourth-and-19. A bounce on the snap looked like things were getting worse, but punter Kyle King decided to run and picked up the first down. Three plays later, Graham found Johnson wide open for a 33-yard touchdown pass, cutting the margin to 17-10.
Early in the fourth quarter, Winder-Barrow extended the led to 24-10 with a quarterback sneak by Landis. A fumble and an interception ended the Falcons’ next two drives, but they still were down by only 14 points. A fumble recovery of their own put them back in business at the Bulldoggs’ 44.
Four plays was all that was needed for Johnson to take the snap on the wildcat and score from 3 yards to trim the lead to 24-17.
Flowery Branch had two chances to send the game to overtime in the game’s closing minutes but were unable to make use of them before time expired.
“We can’t afford to keep making the same mistakes so we have to practice better. I don’t feel like we practiced very well, and when you don’t practice well, you don’t play well,” said Griffin.
Trey Wilcoxson had slow night but a pair of 20-yard runs and a 12-yard run late in the game gave him 102 yards on 21 carries. Graham had 132 passing yards despite only completing five of 18 pass attempts.
Winder-Barrow was led by Javonne Hughes’ 91 rushing yards. Landis added 66 with 109 passing yards while Lunius had 61 rushing yards.