Red Elephants 40, Warriors 3
Difference maker: Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson accounted for 332 yards of offense with two touchdown passes and another two touchdown runs.
Stat that matters: Leading 20-3 at halftime, the Red Elephants scored a touchdown on all three of their drives in the third quarter.
Turning point: In the second quarter, Watson took off the with ball at the 10, changed direction at the line of scrimmage and went in for the score to extend the Red Elephants' lead to 20-3.
Who's next: White County hosts West Hall on Friday; Gainesville hosts North Hall at City Park on Sept. 16.
Those who counted Gainesville's football program out after last week's lopsided loss at Buford may want to reconsider.
The Red Elephants bounced right back with 469 yards of offense and a sound defensive effort in a 40-3 win against White County on Friday at Bobby Gruhn Field.
"This win was just a tribute to our seniors and how they lead this team," Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said. "We had a great night on offense and defense.
"Just a complete effort all around."
The win was both soothing physically and psychologically for the Red Elephants (1-1). With a bye next Friday, Gainesville has two weeks to prepare for its annual showdown against North Hall (0-1) on Sept. 16 at City Park.
"This was a great night for our team," said senior wide receiver Stephen Mason, who caught 10 passes for 79 yards. "It shows that we're not going to quit."
The Red Elephants sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson had another huge night in his young career with 249 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and another two rushing. Not only was Watson finding the right receiver almost every time, but he also knew when it was time to take off with the ball and run.
Watson changed direction on a dime at the line of scrimmage deep in Warriors' territory early in the second quarter, and with a nice block by Mason, scored on a 10-yard run. On the first play of the drive he turned a busted play into a 15-yard gain by twisting and turning, dragging a couple of Warriors defenders along the way.
Watson finished the game with 83 yards on the ground.
And even though Watson made a couple of errant throws, he more than made up for it with his presence in the pocket. No play was more impressive than when Watson eluded pressure on a fourth-and-5 at the White County 20, stepped up and delivered a pass that Mason jumped high off the ground to bring down for the touchdown.
"That was an ESPN top-10 highlight play by Stephen," Watson said.
Not all of Watson's throws were long down field. He also used screen and underneath passes and let his receivers do the work in the open field.
On Gainesville's first of three third quarter touchdown drives, Watson tossed it short to junior Justin Cantrell (five catches, 71 yards) for a 47-yard gain. Keyontra Harrison followed with a 21-yard run on the next play, then scored on a touchdown run from the 14.
Also, sophomore running back Jay Gaudlock filled the shoes of injured starter Rayshon Thomas, and produced a 5-yard touchdown run in the third. He finished the game with 46 rushing yards and three catches for 26 yards. Thomas was out with an ankle injury sustained in practice this week.
Meanwhile, Gainesville's defense gave White County trouble all night, holding the Warriors (0-2) to 101 yards rushing (10 passing). The Warriors' biggest play all night was a 34-yard run by junior quarterback Will Brock on a keeper down the sideline, setting up a 37-yard field goal from junior Tucker Rey.
On White County's next drive, penalties started to be an issue. The drive started with a chop block penalty. Then Gainesville safety Fred Payne stepped up with a huge hit of the Warriors' running back to bring the drive to an end on the final play of the first quarter.
White County hosts West Hall on Friday in Cleveland; Gainesville hosts North Hall on Sept. 16 at City Park.