FLOWERY BRANCH - Defense wins games, especially so at Falcon Field on Friday night.
Two fourth-quarter scores by Flowery Branch's defense led the Falcons (3-1) to a 24-7 win over Chestatee.
"It was just an unbelievable effort (by our defense)," Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw said. "Our defense has started clicking again and won this game tonight, there's no doubt about it."
The Falcons won it by fighting off a momentum swing and making big plays when needed.
Chestatee (1-2) scored its first points of the game with no time remaining at the end of the third quarter on a Ben Souther 12-yard run to pull the War Eagles within 10-7.
Souther carried several Falcons defenders into the end zone after getting hit at the 6-yard line.
On Flowery Branch's ensuing possession, Chestatee's Cam Phillips intercepted a Connor Shaw pass, giving the War Eagles the ball back on their 47-yard line and a chance to drive for a go-ahead score.
But with the momentum in the visitors' favor, Falcons' senior defensive back David DeLeon stripped the ball from Lamar Brooks on the War Eagles' first play from scrimmage following the interception. Junior linebacker Cory Sanderson picked up the loose ball and ran it back 38 yards for the clinching score.
"I saw it coming the whole way," DeLeon said, "so I blew it up and Cory took it for a touchdown."
DeLeon would be the sole provider of the Falcons' final score, intercepting an Ethan Souther pass with 29 seconds left in the game and taking it 21 yards for a touchdown.
"DeLeon probably had the game of his life tonight," Shaw said. "We expect these guys to make big plays and DeLeon did."
"We (the defense) played really good tonight," DeLeon said. "We practiced real hard all week. I mean, this is our rivalry. So we came out and did our jobs and did what we could for the team to win."
While DeLeon provided the highlights, defensive ends Daniel Drummond and Izaan Cross provided the big hits. Both had two sacks in the game and multiple tackles.
"Our game plan was to shut down the inside running game because of (Ben) Souther's game last week," Drummond said. "When we shut that down we were able to get to the quarterback."
Ben Souther finished as the game's leading rusher with 102 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown, but was held to only 42 yards rushing in the first half.
The rest of the Chestatee offense accounted for 171 yards, a stark contrast to last week's 507 yards against Johnson.
"I'm proud of our defense," Shaw said. "The defensive coaches did a great job preparing, but our players owned this one."
Flowery Branch's lone offensive touchdown of the game came with 11 minutes to go in the second quarter on a 4-yard run by Drummond.
The play was set up by one of Shaw's three completions on the night, a 26-yard bootleg pass to freshman Imani Cross.
"It's supposed to work that way," Lee Shaw said. "We're disappointed because they're are several things we thought we could do that we didn't execute tonight. But we'll correct some things with that.
"Credit should be given to Chestatee though. They came to play and had a good plan against us."
The Falcons offense amassed only 176 yards of total offense, with Shaw as the leading rusher, going for 57 yards on nine carries.
Flowery Branch next plays host to Johnson at 7:30 p.m. Friday while Chesatee travels to Pickens at 7:30 p.m. Friday.