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Red Elephants 68, Bulldoggs 0
Difference maker: Quarterback Deshaun Watson was dominant as ever, passing for 310 yards and four touchdowns, and rushing for one. His 31-yard touchdown pass to Jay Gaudlock in the first quarter included his 10,000th career passing yard, a milestone no other Georgia quarterback has ever reached.
Stat that matters: Gainesville racked up 616 yards of total offense, a 284-yard improvement from last week’s loss to Buford. Meanwhile, the Red Elephants held Winder-Barrow to just 89 yards, including a mere 24 in the second half.
Turning point: Michael Byrd broke open for a 63-yard run with 4:21 left in the first quarter, capping off a drive that started at the Gainesville 1-yard line. It put the Red Elephants up 21-0 with three quarters still left to play, and they were unstoppable the rest of the way.
Who’s next: Gainesville visits Apalachee on Friday at R. Harold Harrison Sports Complex in Winder; Winder-Barrow hosts Salem on Friday at W. Clair Harris Stadium in Winder.
With every big game he adds to his historic resume, Deshaun Watson continues to reach unprecedented milestones.
The Gainesville senior passed for 310 yards and four touchdowns, rushed for another and reached 10,000 career passing yards as the Red Elephants cruised to their biggest win of the year, a 68-0 shutout over Winder-Barrow on Friday.
Watson, one of the nation’s most celebrated recruits and a commit to Clemson, completed 19 of 27 passes and made sure Gainesville (2-1, 1-0 Region 8-AAAAA) left no doubt that it’s still a contender for region and state titles before the contest even reached halftime. He scored four of his five touchdowns in the first half to put the Red Elephants up 35-0, making for a stress-free night the rest of the way.
“Every team is going to be gunning for us, knowing that we’re probably the top team in the region and the most likely to win it,” Watson said. “We just have to go out every Friday, take it one game at a time and finish our business.”
The win comes a week after Gainesville ended up on the wrong end of a lopsided loss to Buford in a battle between two defending state champions. In that game, the Red Elephants were limited to 332 yards — much lower than their typical production — and Watson was held to just 176 passing yards.
Neither Watson nor his teammates left themselves fall into a funk this week. Gainesville finished with 616 yards of total offense and limited Winder-Barrow (1-2, 0-1) to just 89 yards.
“Last week, we had our confidence slammed back in our face,” Red Elephants coach Bruce Miller said. “The defense played great, we got a shutout. Offensively we were hitting on all cylinders, Other than a couple of turnovers, we did a really good job on offense.”
Behind Watson, Gainesville’s top producer was running back Michael Byrd, who rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns, and caught for another 107 yards.
His 63-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the Red Elephants’ longest play of the night and capped off a 99-yard drive. The score put Gainesville up 21-0 late in the first.
The Red Elephants opened the game with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Watson to Rodney Lackey on the opening drive a minute and a half after opening kickoff. They tacked on another score a little more than a minute later after Colton Quinones recovered a Winder-Barrow fumble on the Bulldoggs’ 31-yard line to set Watson’s long heave to Jay Gaudlock.
The touchdown pass clinched Watson’s 10,000th career yard.
“That’s pretty special, I have to thank my teammates and my coaches for that,” Watson said. “I’ve been working hard since my freshman year, and it’s a great honor and a blessing to have all that work come through.”
Gaudlock himself had a productive night, pulling down six catches for 89 yards and three touchdowns.
He found the end zone again on a 14-yard pass from Watson with 11 seconds left in the first half, then caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Mikey Gonzalez midway through the third quarter after Watson had been pulled from the game.
“Jay is one of those steady performers for us,” Miller said. “He’s always on target, and he played great. I thought our whole team came out and played super tonight.”
Lackey ended the night as Gainesville’s leading receiver with 123 yards on seven catches.
Chastin Newman added another touchdown catch on an 11-yard pass from Watson to give the Red Elephants a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Watson’s final appearance of the night was early in the third quarter, when he shook off a swarm Winder-Barrow tacklers on his way to the end zone for a 28-yard run to put Gainesville up 42-0.
Gonzalez took over for the rest of the night, and was 10 of 14 for 153 yards and two touchdowns. He concluded the Red Elephants’ scoring for the night with a 13-yard pass to Josh Holderfield with three minutes remaining in the game.
Byrd added a 24-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, and Mesiah Dorsey punched in a 1-yard run early in the fourth after taking a 36-yard catch to the goal line.
Winder-Barrow was led by Andre Jackson, who rushed for 34 yards on 14 carries. The Bulldoggs were held to 31 yards in the air, and only picked up one first down and 24 total yards in the second half.