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Davis: Yes, they are 'that good'
Gainesville lives up to its reputation with rout of Flowery Branch
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It’s impossible to quantify the phrase, "that good," until you witness it.

Looking at statistics and hearing about Division I-caliber talent and commitments might make you shake your head and say, "Wow, they’re good," but it’s impossible to quantify how good until you witness it.

Friday night at Falcon Field, "that good" was on display.

The stage was set for an offensive showdown between Class AAA’s No. 1-ranked Gainesville and Flowery Branch.

The two teams were — as has been talked about ad nauseum for a week — the top two offensive teams in the state averaging just over 47 points a game each.

Gainesville matched and exceeded its average scoring 49 points with a balanced attack that, when all was said and done, had 288 yards rushing and 161 yards passing.

Quarterback Blake Sims and wide receiver Tai-ler Jones did what they’ve done all season and don’t need to be doted on anymore for it.

It’s expected that those two will run and pass and catch their team to a win.

Friday night, their production was to the tune of three touchdowns, 146 yards receiving, 161 yards passing and 134 yards rushing.

"We just try to get them in the open field," Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said. "Our offensive coaches did a great job of scheming for those guys tonight."

Sims and Jones are the first reason Gainesville is that good.

I can’t really say that I expected Tyson Smith to rush for 138 yards, however, and I certainly didn’t expect him to have three touchdowns.

The unheralded running back/backup quarterback’s, performance is the second reason Gainesville is that good.

Flowery Branch’s offense came in as the top-producing offense in the state, but it didn’t leave that way.

Gainesville’s defense is the third, and most important, reason why I can safely say that the Red Elephants are "that good."

The Falcons didn’t make mistakes offensively, sans one turnover.

Scoring 17 points, their lowest point total of the season, wasn’t because they were lackluster or not as good as advertised. Flowery Branch has made it clear this season that the one thing it can do is score quickly and a bunch.

The Falcons were literally held to 17 points by a Gainesville defense that words alone can’t do justice in describing.

Prior to the start of the game, Miller said that Flowery Branch quarterback Connor Shaw was slippery and an expert at scrambling and throwing on the run. He said that with Shaw running the offense the Falcons were never out of a play or a game.

Unless, of course, he’s sacked.

The Red Elephants bumrushed the South Carolina commit with such fervor and such speed that he never had time to be slippery.

They amassed six sacks on the night led by linebacker A.J. Johnson — who’s verbally committed to Tennessee — with three sacks, all in the first half.

"That No. 45, A.J., he’s the real deal," Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw said. "Man, they’re good."

Shaw still threw for 329 yards, an incredible game by normal standards. Unfortunately for Shaw and his Falcons teammates, they came up against a team that is "that good."

Numerous times Flowery Branch was inside the 20-yard line and threatening to score and each time the defense stood up and said, "No."

"We slowed them down and came close to bringing them to a halt," Miller said. "Our defense was outstanding tonight."

Flowery Branch is good, people, and next week when the Falcons travel to Ridgeland for a first-round playoff game you shouldn’t be surprised if they win.

Flowery Branch is so good that it averaged over 47 points a game through nine games.

The 10th game, however, the Falcons came up against a team that has now won its second Region 7-AAA title in a row, a team that now leads the state in offensive production: a team that is quite simply "that good."

Katie B. Davis is a sports reporter for The Times.

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