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Early lead evaporates for Gainesville in 26-10 loss to John's Creek in Corky Kell Classic
Gainesville football 2021
Gainesville's Chamarion Bush (16) makes the tackle against John's Creek in the first half of the Corky Kell Classic on Aug. 20, 2021 at City Park Stadium. Photo by Bill Murphy

A combination of unfinished plays, inexperience and Mother Nature tripped up the Gainesville High in the Corky Kell Classic.

John’s Creek High took advantage of its opportunity for a 26-10 victory over the Red Elephants at City Park Stadium.

The game was stopped early in the fourth quarter due to lightning delays. 

Teams waited for more than an hour before the clouds opened up. Both schools administration and head football coaches met with the game officials before calling the game.

“It is disappointing,” Gainesville head coach Heath Webb said. “You want to compete until the end.”

Gainesville (0-1) travels to Chattahoochee High next Friday at 7:30 pm. 

Between now and then Webb and his staff will need the time to fix the mishaps made against John’s Creek.

First, the Red Elephants will need to finish its offensive drives. 

Gainesville did not have much trouble moving the ball. 

It was able to get the ball to Naim Cheeks. 

Whenever he rushed the ball, Gainesville moved down the field. The offense had more first downs than Johns Greek, 19-15.

The Gladiators (1-0), however, controlled the line of scrimmage. Johns Creek rushed for a team total 176 for the game. Most of the load was carried by Tylan Johnson. The senior running back followed his offensive line, which forced its will on the Red Elephants defensive line. He finished the game with 141 yards on 13 carriers. 

His longest carry was for 33 yards.

“They have a very good football team,” Webb said. “When they decided to move and win the offensive line, they had a lot of success.”

After trailing 10-0 late in the first quarter, John’s Creek offense gained momentum from Johnson’s effort and just leaning on Gainesville’s inexperience on the defensive end of the field.

The Red Elephants are talented on the defensive end of end of the ball, but those players do not have enough game reps. They had their moments throughout the game. At the start of the second half, Johns Creek was forced to a three-and-out. However, the offense could not get into the end zone. The Gladiators came down the field and jumped out to a 19-10 lead when senior quarterback Kyle Durham connected with Brandon Palmer. It was all the confidence and momentum Johns Creek needed.

“Offensively, we have to finish drives,” Webb said. “ We couldn’t finish.”

Gainesville’s offense controlled the first quarter behind the Cheeks legs and Baxter Wright’s control. The duo found gaps in the Gladiators defensive armor, which eventually led to Marquis Ross punching it in for a 7-0 lead. Giovanni Martinez added a 27-yard field goal. 

It was all the scoring the Red Elephants could muster. 

Cheeks finished with 15 carriers for 100 yards. 

Wright was 17-of-25 for 137 yards.

Johns Creek capped its scoring when Durham connected with senior wide receiver Josh Thompson for a 49-yard touchdown. Shortly there after the officials instructed both teams to take cover as lightning was in the surrounding area. 

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