Red Elephants 48, Apalachee 7
Difference maker: Linebacker Jadarius Sosebee’s pick-six sealed the win for Big Red. He also did a great job helping lead the defense in only allowing seven points to Apalachee.
Turning point: The first play of the game. Apalachee was back deep to return the opening kickoff, but instead of doing that, the Chee muffed it and allowed Gainesville to recover it and turn that drive into a touchdown.
Stat that matters: Nine fumbles by Apalachee.
Who’s next: Gainesville returns home next Friday night to take on Heritage. Apalachee will remain at home and host Clarke Central
BETHLEHEM — Gainesville coach Bruce Miller hit a big milestone Friday night.
The Red Elephants overpowered Apalachee 48-7, giving Miller his 200th career victory as a head coach.
“It’s amazing,” Miller said. “I never thought I’d get it.”
Miller started coaching at Gainesville (2-1, 2-0 Region 8-AAAAA) in 2002, after coaching stints at Cass and North Forsyth.
His Red Elephants did not take long to get on the scoreboard. After recovering an Apalachee (0-4, 0-3 Region 8-AAAAA) fumble on the opening kickoff, Gainesville maneuvered its way the remaining 20 yards, ending in a 5-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Mikey Gonzalez to senior receiver Rodney Lackey.
By the end of the first quarter, Gainesville had scored two more touchdowns, one a 66-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Chris Williamson and one an 18-yard rush up the middle by junior running back Chris Byrd.
After scoring again and bringing the score to 27-0 in favor of Gainesville, the Red Elephants lined up for the ensuing kickoff. After muffing and recovering the ball, the Wildcats fumbled it for the second time on that play. Sophomore Kadarius Smith picked up the fumble at the 5-yard line and brought it in for a touchdown.
After going back-and-forth a couple of times, the Cats had the football back and were driving. Sitting at fourth-and-five, junior quarterback Brian Wilson dropped back to pass and found senior wideout Kent Knowles for a 19-yard touchdown pass.
Gainesville did not take very long to respond to the Wildcats’ lone touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore Martavius Davis caught the short kick and then lateraled the ball to junior Toddrick Turner, who returned the ball to Apalachee’s 31-yard line. Three plays later, Gainesville was back in the end zone.
With Gainesville coming into the second half with a 41-7 lead, the rest of the game ran with a running clock.
Big Red scored their final touchdown in the third quarter. After turning the ball over on downs, senior linebacker Jadarius Sosebee intercepted Wilson at the 28-yard line and returned the interception for one final touchdown.
Apalachee Head Coach Shane Davis was not thrilled about how his team played Friday night.
“I’m not proud of us tonight because we continued to do things that do not put us in a position to be successful,” Davis said. “We have to give ourselves a chance to be successful.”
Morale was “borderline impossible” to keep up on the sidelines, Davis said.
“They can fool us a little bit. You can put a smile on your face, and you can ‘rah-rah’ and all like that, but I think it’s tough,” Davis concluded.
Gainesville returns home next Friday night to take on Heritage. Apalachee will play host to Clarke Central.