Falcons 34, War Eagles 10
Difference maker: Third-string QB Kory Graham guided the Falcons offense on a 34-0 run in the second half.
Stat that matters: Chestatee was 1-11 on third down conversions and went nearly 43 minutes between scoring plays.
Turning point: Flowery Branch backup QB Jason Johnson connected with Kyle King on a 78 yard TD pass in the first minute of the 3rd quarter, giving the Falcons their first lead at 7-3.
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2004 last season, the Flowery Branch Falcons started 2015 off on the right foot in their season opener with a 34-10 victory over Chestatee on Friday.
Midgame injuries sidelined the top two quarterbacks on the Flowery Branch (1-0, 0-0) depth chart, but third-string sophomore quarterback Kory Graham stepped into the role seamlessly, helping the Falcons reel off 34 unanswered points in the second half.
After a lethargic first half, Flowery Branch came out swinging in the second half. In the third quarter, Graham connected with Cortez Davis on a 29-yard touchdown pass to put the Falcons up 14-3. Minutes later, Graham struck again as he found senior receiver Kyle King (3 catches, 123 yards, 2 TD) streaking across the middle of the field for a 40-yard score, increasing the Flowery Branch lead to 21-3.
“I wasn’t expecting to play and I was a little nervous, but I just had to come out and know what I can do,” Graham said. “The coaches believed in me, the players believed in me, and I just had to go out and prove it.”
Falcons starting quarterback Nick Lance was helped off the field in the second quarter with an apparent shoulder injury. Backup Jason Johnson, who performed well during his limited time on the field, also came down with a game-ending injury in the third quarter.
Less than a minute into the third quarter, Johnson connected with King down the left sideline, who then cut back toward the middle of the field and raced past the Chestatee (0-1, 0-0) defense on his way to a 78 yard touchdown, giving the Falcons a 7-3 lead.
“Thirty-four points in the second half came from us addressing some things at halftime, making sure that we fixed the things we needed to fix in the first half,” Flowery Branch coach Chris Griffin said. “I’m very pleased with how we responded and how our guys left it all out on the field.”
Despite going ahead early on a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter, Chestatee struggled to string together meaningful offense throughout the game. The War Eagles finally reached the end zone in the closing moments of the game, adding a boost of morale to an otherwise difficult night.
“I think we have a lot to build on,” Chestatee coach Bill Forman said. “We just have to defend against the big play and find some offense ... there’s no doubt our kids can play, we just got to be more consistent.”
Both teams showed a great deal of early season rust with penalties being called frequently throughout the first half. Fumbles, procedural errors, and missed assignments made it clear that both squads were still fine-tuning and working out off-season kinks.
“I hope our guys realize what they are capable of doing when they do things the right way,” Griffin said. “When we make mistakes and shoot ourselves in the foot, it’s hard to win ball games. We’ll get those things fixed and be better next week.”
Flowery Branch’s Friday night victory stands as the 100th win all time in program history.