After snapping an 18-game losing streak last week, Chestatee entered Friday’s nonregion contest against Flowery Branch hoping to build on that success in its home opener.
Instead, the visiting Falcons (1-1) scored on five of nine offensive possessions in the first half, then went on to run away with their eighth consecutive victory in the series in a 41-13 decision at War Eagle Stadium.
Last week, the Falcons’ chances for a win were squandered against North Hall by a missed field goal attempt. Friday, they had a little more breathing room, accruing 388 yards of offense behind the arm of starting quarterback Nick Lance and the legs of an explosive backfield.
The elusiveness of the Falcons’ ball carriers went on full display with a combined 151 yards on 21 carries. Malik Damons contributed a big chunk of real estate with a 70-yard touchdown for his only carry of the game in the first half.
The Falcons also held the War Eagles (1-2) to a pair of first downs in the first half, eight total for the game, and put their offense in contention for its second score with a fumble recovery inside Chestatee 30-yard line with under two minutes left in the opening quarter.
Falcons coach Chris Griffin was pleased to see his team perform in all three phases to get the rebound win.
“It’s fun for our kids, how they worked hard this week to correct the things they didn’t do well last week,” Griffin said. “That’s what you wanted to see your football team do, and I thought our guys responded.”
Chestatee running back Nick Lyles fought on every carry to finish with his second straight 100-plus yard performance. He was yielded to just 24 yards on his first 13 carries, but caught steam in the second half with 80 yards on his final 12 carries to account for both of the War Eagles’ scores (2, 15).
“We made some mistakes in the first half, and you can’t do that against good teams, and we know that,” War Eagles coach Shaun Conley said. “I’m sure their game plan was to stop Nick, and they did a great job of doing that.”
It was obvious early on Lance had already put those two picks thrown the previous week behind him. The junior stood tall in the pocket by completing 8-of-10 throws for 198 yards and three touchdowns in the first half — two to Tyler Williams (2 catches, 65 yards, 2 TDs) on back-to-back drives.
Lance (11 of 13, 237 yards) completed his final three throws to Malik Drayton (six catches, 96 yards) during a seven-play, 80-yard drive to open the second half. The Falcons brought out the “Wild Falcon” formation, and Drayton punched in the Falcons’ final score from 22 yards out at the 8:49 mark.
Drayton’ s explosiveness in space earned him 124 total yards.
“Our coaches set us up perfectly,” Lance said. “They gave us the looks. Our scout team did a great job this week, and we knew what we were gonna get, and we just executed really well.”
The Falcons traded punts with Chestatee for much of the first quarter, but broke free on their fourth possession. The Falcons added touchdowns on five of their next six drives to break the game wide open.
Lance settled in a groove on the Falcons’ fourth possession. Lance marched the offense down the field in just three quick plays, first finding running back Malik Drayton on a flare pass that turned into the Falcons’ first big gain of the night. The speedster brought the Falcons into War Eagle territory with a 56- yard scamper down the sidelines after the catch.
Lance was sacked by Chestatee's Nero Hawks and Nader Osman on the next play, but found Tyler Williams along the sideline on the next snap for a 35-yard touchdown to put the Falcons on the board at the 1:46 mark.
Following a Falcons’ fumble recovery on the ensuing kickoff, Lance found his man Williams once more on the second play of the drive for a 30-yard score, with only 21 seconds burned off the clock, to go up 14-0.
Up 28-0, Jalin Strown caught a screen pass from Lance, then used a block by Drayton to turn the corner and take his second reception of the game 56 yards to the house with 35.7 seconds left in the half.
Flowery Branch has Stephens County next on the docket for a road matchup. Chestatee plays at Fannin County.