Many members of Flowery Branch’s defense appeared dog-tired after Friday night’s contest with Region 8-AAAA Jefferson.
That’s because the Dragons’ offense did what it usually does best, churning out 80 offensive plays with 290 rushing yards while cashing in two of four Falcon turnovers a 33-0 shutout at the Branch.
The Dragons (3-1) got plenty of output from senior Zack Boobas (seven carries, 32 yards, 1 TD) and Elite 11 fullback Colby Wood, who rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries behind a sturdy offensive line that paved the way.
Even freshman quarterback Colby Clark (two completions, 45 yards) added to the pot with a 28-yard touchdown pass with 7 seconds left in the half.
Terrell Walls set the Dragons up for their fifth score of the night in the third quarter with a fumble recovery and picked off Falcons’ quarterback Kory Graham to start the fourth quarter. Zac Corbin added an interception of Nick Lance (6 of 9 passing, 55 yards, INT) in the second half.
Falcons (1-3) coach Chris Griffin made it clear to his players all week at practice it was going to be a long night if they couldn’t win the battle in the trenches.
The Falcons’ defense bent but didn’t break on the Dragons’ opening drive, forcing the visitors to settle for a 39-yard field goal after marching 41 yards on their first 11 plays.
Griffin’s fears were confirmed after the Falcons went three and out on the ensuing drive. The Dragons took advantage of the short field off a short Falcons’ punt and Wood racked up 55 yards on four carries, his fourth for a 12-yard touchdown plunge to put the Dragons up by 10 at the 1:34 mark.
The Falcons’ usual speedy backfield. led by Malik Drayton. was stalled for minus-1 rushing yards on a combined 14 carries.
Up 10-0, Wood ran towards of any sign up daylight up front during the Dragons’ third possession, powering up the middle through a small gap and then carrying three defenders on his back before falling forward for a 20-yard gain. Wood later got behind junior guard Hunter Griffith, who guided Wood 17 yards before giving his fullback a subtle push into the end zone for the Dragons’ third score of the half five plays later.
“They were filling gaps,” Wood said of the Falcons’ defense. “They had some great linebackers, but tried to do what I could do. But thanks to the O-line, and the rest of the players for opening up the gaps for me.”
The hosts couldn’t get much of a breather moving forward. Out of the Dragons’ 10 first downs in the half, they were five-of-six on third down, and two-for-three on fourth down.
“Our defense was on the field too long,” Griffin said of the first half. “I think we started well, was very pleased with our defense. But our defense played almost 50 plays in the first half, and you can’t ask your defense to stay out there that long and do battle, and to go to war with their offensive line with that many plays.”
Even with all that success, Jefferson coach Ben Hall said adjustments needed to be made against an aggressive Falcon front seven.
“They did a nice job at crowding the box, and we deserve that for our style of play,” Hall said. “They had eight-nine in the box at all times. ... We tweaked a few things, and we were able to run the ball well at times. I’m just proud of our effort at the line of scrimmage, in our fullback (Wood), and our freshman quarterback we played tonight and their receivers blocking down the field, throwing it when we could, and I’m just proud of the execution on offense as well.”
Clark racked up some yardage as well in place of veteran Bryce Moore, who only made an appearance in one series. The 175-pound freshman added 41 yards on 12 carries, and sold the play-action perfectly to deliver the Dragons’ lone passing score to wideout Sammy Elegreet with 7 seconds left in the half to make it 24-0. The score came five plays after Alex Mason recovered a Falcons’ fumble on Flowery Branch’s 48-yard-line.
“He (Clark) offers us a little more mobility and he can make things happen when he’s outside the pocket, and he’s a strong runner,” Hall said. “He’s not your typical freshman.”
Jefferson has Gainesville next on the schedule at home, while Flowery Branch stays home against Johnson next week.