Flowery Branch spoiled homecoming Friday for the Apalachee with a 52-28 victory.
The Wildcats fell to 0-7 for the season in a game that saw their offense able to move the ball, but a series of big plays by the Falcons was their downfall. Apalachee gave up three touchdown runs of at least 52 yards including a 90-yard rush by sophomore back Jeremiah Goss.
The momentum of the game swung back in Flowery Branch’s favor late in the second quarter when Goss tight roped the sideline and escaped a diving attempt at a tackle to give his team a 21-14 lead following the extra point.
Apalachee head coach Shane Davis said his team was doing well and then gave up the 90-yard run on a sweep where Goss broke several tackles.
After Apalachee punted on the first drive of the game, the teams traded touchdowns the next five drives with the Wildcats stalling after a failed fake punt attempt late in the second quarter.
Apalachee received the ball with 3:21 left in the half and moved to the 43-yard line of Flowery Branch before a fourth-and-2 thrown on a fake punt by Shane Burnett was knocked down.
With Flowery Branch up 21-14, the Falcons started at their own 43-yard line with 1:17 left in the first half. A penalty-plagued drive for the Wildcats led to a 44-yard-field goal by Will Filson as the time expired to give Flowery Branch a 24-14 lead.
The drive started with offsetting penalties and later included a roughing-the-passer call and an offside penalty against Apalachee.
Apalachee’s offense methodically moved downfield after being down 7-0 midway through the first quarter. The drive included runs by Stewart of 7, 7 and 10 yards. A 14-yard pass from Wilson to Hunter Wagler brought the Wildcats to the edge of the red zone, just outside the 20-yard line.
A pass interference call on a pass to Knowles set up a first and goal and the drive was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Bales.
The first drive of the second half saw the Falcons deal with multiple penalties such as a facemask, two block in the back calls and holding. Wildcat defensive back Rob Thompson deflected a pass on a fourth-and-2 to give the ball back to his team.
Two plays later, a Wilson pass was intercepted by Falcon Cortez Davis and returned 6 yards to the Apalachee 35. Apalachee’s Kyle Jackson nearly intercepted a third down pass on the left sideline and Flowery Branch punted to the 5-yard line.
Following a punt by Apalachee, Falcons quarterback Jasen Johnson faked a handoff to Goss going left, then cut back right down the sideline before crossing back again near the 20 and finishing with a 55-yard touchdown. The extra point pushed them ahead 31-14 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Apalachee came within 10 points on the next drive after Wilson completed several passes to Knowles and Wagler including a Knowles’ fingertip 24-yard catch at the 1-yard line. Running back Bales hit the end zone two plays later.
The final score for the Wildcats came with 4:58 left in the fourth on a drive that included a trick play. Wilson appeared to have lost the ball while throwing a quick screen to Knowles and with Apalachee’s offense acting as if was an incomplete pass it fooled most of the Flowery Branch defenders. Knowles picked up the ball, which was actually a lateral, and threw a 55-yard pass to Kyle Jackson.
Bales then scored on a 2-yard run to get Apalachee within 10 points.
However, a recovery of an onside kick by the Falcons gave them the ball at midfield. Johnson then faked a handoff and ran 52-yards untouched for a score.
Following another interception, Goss had a 15-yard touchdown run for the final score of the game.
Johnson finished with three touchdowns including a 25-yard pass and a 55-yard run. Goss had four touchdowns for the Falcons and 152 yards on offense.
The stars for the Wildcats were Kyle Jackson and wide receiver Kent Knowles. Jackson rushed for 138 yards while Knowles caught six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown.
Junior Jamal Stewart finished the game with 57 yards on 10 rushes and quarterback Bryan Wilson completed 14-of-27 passes for 153 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, Dalton Bales had three touchdown runs from 1 and 2 yards out.