CONYERS — The Gainesville Red Elephants visited the Rockdale County area last weekend and built a quick reputation as a team capable of forcing turnovers.
Back in Conyers a week later, the Red Elephants polished that reputation.
One week after intercepting Heritage five times in a shutout win, Gainesville traveled a few miles down the road and forced six more turnovers in a 34-6 victory at Salem Stadium.
Gainesville (4-1, 4-0 Region 8-AAAAA) held a three-point advantage late in the opening quarter before Gerald Walker was intercepted by Kamden Young and the Gainesville defensive back returned it near midfield.
That was the first of many mistakes by the Seminoles and the first of two interceptions by Young.
Salem (4-2, 3-2), which dropped its second straight game after a 4-0 start, was hit with a 15-yard late hit penalty that put the Red Elephants inside the 30. Quarterback Messiah Dorsey was 4-for-6 passing on the drive, including a 7-yard touchdown toss to Chris Byrd and it was a 10-0 game.
Late in the opening half, Salem’s A.J. McCorkle fumbled a punt and Keith Harris recovered for Gainesville deep in Seminoles’ territory.
It took one play to put the Hall County school up 24-6 at halftime as Dorsey found Martavius Davis for his second score of the half, this time on 24-yard completion in the far corner of the end zone with 2:24 to go.
Salem marched 80 yards in just six plays early in the second quarter for its only points of the night. It was an impressive possession highlighted by Walker’s 54-yard hook up with Andrew Morton, one of three grabs on the drive by the junior wideout, to the Gainesville 15.
Tyriano Greene took over from there, carrying twice and capping the drive with a 3-yard scoring run and Salem was within 10-6.
Dorsey made it 17-6 with a 6-yard scoring run, while Young added fumble recovery of Luquan Williams early in the fourth to his excellent night.
The visitors from Hall County got on the scoreboard first, though thanks to a stiffening Salem defense were held to just three points. Gainesville got consecutive completions from Dorsey, the first to Davis for 39 yards to the 15, and a 10-yarder to Roadarius Timmons to the Salem 5 to set up first-and-goal.
Gainesville tried three straight running plays with tailback Chris Byrd, but Salem held the senior to just 2 yards and a 20-yard field goal by Chandler Staton made it 3-0 with just over eight minutes left in the first.