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The Gainesville Red Elephants were able to hold Salem scoreless until the final five seconds of a 49-6 blowout win on Friday night in Conyers.
Deshaun Watson and Michael Byrd fueled the Gainesville (6-1, 5-0 Region 8-AAAAA) offense in the first half with Byrd scoring one of his two touchdowns a 6-yard run with 5:04 left in the first quarter. Rodney Lackey opened the scoring for Gainesville with 9:58 left in the first, and the Red Elephants continued the charge until Salem scored their only points of the game with 5.5 seconds left to play.
“We were able to get some big plays early in the game,” said Gainesville coach Bruce Miller. “We converted on a third and long early when Deshaun (Watson) hit Rodney (Lackey) on a corner route for the first down that got us going on the first series.”
Watson completed 14 of 23 passes in the game for 220 yards and three touchdowns. Byrd had two rushing touchdowns in the game.
The Salem offense could not withstand the constant pressure of the Red Elephants defense and threw two interceptions in the game, one of which was returned by junior linebacker Brenquez Dukes.
Before halftime, Gainesville scored two more touchdowns on catches by Lackey and Mesiah Dorsey to extend their lead to 35-0 at the half.
“It was just one of those nights where everything was clicking,” said Miller.
At the start of the third quarter, Gainesville’s Mikey Gonzalez took Watson’s place at quarterback and finished out the game with the Red Elephant offense scoring twice more under the sophomore’s direction.
“I thought Mikey did a great job of running the offense,” Miller said. “The offensive line did a great job blocking. Everybody was around the football.”
The Red Elephants, who secured their sixth straight win with the victory on Friday, play host to Clarke Central on Friday at City Park Stadium in Gainesville.