Red Elephants 66, Warriors 7
Difference maker: The Red Elephant offense rolled up nearly 500 yards in the first half alone turning a close game into a rout with a 34-point scoring outburst in the second quarter.
Stat that matters: Four, the number of incomplete passes Gainesville quarterbacks had in 25 attempts.
Turning point: Facing a third-and-long, Gainesville turned to its playmaker, Tray Harrison, who electrified the crowd with a 96-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 19-0.
Who's next: Gainesville hosts Monroe Area in a key subregion matchup. Oconee County hosts West Hall next Friday.
“Everything went right.”
That comment by coach Bruce Miller summarizes Gainesville’s performance Friday in a dominating 66-7 victory over the visiting Oconee County Warriors.
The momentum and tone of the game changed on one play early in the second quarter. “Brown Gun Oldsmobile” was the play call that was the turning point in the game, according to Tray Harrison.
Oconee County (2-4, 0-2) was trailing 13-0 early in the second quarter and had forced the Gainesville (5-1, 2-0) offense into a third-and-long situation. The Red Elephant offense needed 22 yards to keep the drive alive.
Harrison took an option pitch to his right and sprinted down the right sideline. He then cut all the way across the field around midfield, juked two defenders around the 10-yard line and scored to cap an electrifying 96-yard touchdown run that extended Gainesville’s lead to 19-0 with 10:14 left in the second quarter.
Rayshon Thomas, Deshaun Watson, Stephen Mason and a host of others contributed to a 34-point outburst in the second quarter. The scoring onslaught by Gainesville turned a close game at the end of the first quarter into a rout heading into the third.
Thomas got the scoring started with a 6-yard scoring run on Gainesville’s fourth play of the night. It would not have been possible without a spectacular throw-and-catch by Watson and Mason. Watson laid out a beautiful pass to Mason, who made a one-handed catch and proceeded to gain 58 yards on the play. Two plays later, Thomas found the end zone on a run up the middle.
After a Gainesville interception, Thomas found the end zone again with a 3-yard run up the middle.
Watson rebounded from an early interception on a high throw to lead the passing attack with 219 passing yards, all in the first half. He added 60 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown as well.
Mason led the receivers with 104 receiving yards on five catches and a touchdown. Thomas led the ground attack with 76 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
“Our motto is ‘all-in’ and that’s what we’ve been doing every Friday night,” Watson said.
There were outstanding performances up and down the roster including the younger Red Elephant players who got a chance to play in the second half. Mikey Gonzalez completed all but one of his passes and added a late touchdown pass while Michael Byrd added 97 rushing yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
The offense may have shined but the defense did its part too allowing only one Oconee County touchdown on a long 78-yard touchdown pass. The score closed the gap to 19-7 before Gainesville pulled away. The Red Elephant defense was strong all night as they forced the Warriors to turn the ball over three times with two fumbles and one interception.
“We’ve got to keep fine-tuning,” Miller said.
“This team keeps improving and I think improvement is the key.”
Gainesville plays host to Monroe Area in a pivotal subregion matchup next Friday.