Falcons 56, Raiders 31
Difference maker: Falcons quarterback Kanler Coker accounted for six touchdowns (five passing, one rushing) in the first half to give Flowery Branch a commanding lead they would not relinquish.
Stat that matters: 35 points scored by Flowery Branch in the second quarter, turning a 10-7 Habersham Central lead after one into a 42-17 Falcons lead at the half.
Turning point: Midway through the second quarter with Habersham Central down 27-10 but driving, the Raiders fumbled and Flowery Branch recovered, leading quickly to another score and a 35-10 advantage.
Who's next: Flowery Branch travels to Heritage, Conyers (7-0, 7-0 8-AAAA). Habersham Central has a bye week before hosting the Patriots.
FLOWERY BRANCH — Habersham Central senior Kevin Ellison entered Friday’s game as one of the top quarterbacks in Region 8-AAAA.
But it was Flowery Branch quarterback Kanler Coker who stole the show, leading the Falcons to a 56-31 win to remain undefeated.
Coker finished 9 of 16 passing for 249 yards and five touchdowns, and added another 85 yards rushing and a score on 11 carries. And he scored all six touchdowns in just one half of play.
“He can play,” said senior wide receiver C.J. Curry, who caught two touchdown passes from his former North Hall teammate and added a punt return for a score. “I knew he had it in him. I didn’t know when it would come out, but it definitely came out this game.”
Ellison didn’t disappoint, finishing the game with 210 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 23 carries. He had 149 yards through the air and two more scores on 10-of-18 passing.
But the Falcons quarterback was even better Friday night, leading Flowery Branch (6-0, 6-0 8-AAAA) over their toughest opponent yet. And at this point in the season, it won’t get any easier with a trip to Heritage-Conyers (7-0, 7-0) up next.
“We knew it was going to be like this every week the next five weeks,” said Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw. “We knew that the meat of the schedule would be after the break.”
If the offense keeps it up, the tough schedule is certainly manageable.
While the Raiders (4-3, 4-3) actually produced more offense on the night (501-424), the Falcons showed the ability to score in bunches, tallying 35 points in the second quarter to take a commanding halftime lead.
“That may be the most talent on a field that I’ve seen since Northside-Warner Robins a few years back,” said Habersham Central coach Stuart Cunningham. “But the players and I are a little ticked off it wasn’t more of a game.”
It was a tight game early on, but even with Habersham Central controlling the ball for long chunks, the Falcons found time to score en route to a 42-17 halftime lead.
Coker led the way, finishing 7 of 12 for 234 yards and five touchdowns, along with nine carries for 85 yards and a score in just the first half.
He threw two touchdowns a piece to senior receivers Curry and Casey Osborne and a fifth to junior Jamaad Stephens on a screen pass.
Ellison recorded 144 yards rushing on 12 carries in the half, including a 77-yard touchdown run, and finished 4-of-9 through the air for 87 yards and another score.
Habersham Central senior kicker Zac Perry added a 27-yard field goal.
Flowery Branch opened the scoring on the first drive, but the Raiders scored the next 10 points, including a 51 yard touchdown pass from Ellison to receiver Zac Franks, to briefly take a 10-7 lead with 34 seconds left in the first quarter.
Then Coker showed off his speed, sprinting 44 yards for a score and a 14-10 Flowery Branch lead.
The Falcons forced a three-and-out on Habersham Central’s next possession, and on just the second play of Flowery Branch’s next drive Coker passed to Stephens on a short screen, and the junior weaved through traffic for a 74 yard touchdown and a 21-10 lead. Flowery Branch kept the lead in double-digits the rest of the night.