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Fast start lifts Falcons past North Hall, 35-7
Flowery Branch goes to 6-1 behind 5-TD first-half outburst
Flowery Branch's Chris Lipscomb (24) races down the sidelines ahead of North Hall defenders after recovering a fumble and returning it for a touchdown during the first quarter of Friday night's game at Falcon Field.


Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw talks about his team's performance in a 35-7 win against North Hall on Friday night at Falcons Field.

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Flowery Branch senior Chris Lipscomb couldn't have imagined how his touchdown on the first drive of the game was going to foreshadow Friday night's contest against North Hall at Falcon Field.

He picked up a fumble by his own teammate in the backfield and ran 48 yards for a touchdown on the way to a 35-7 win over the Trojans.

It certainly painted the picture of a dominating first half for the Falcons (6-1, 2-0 Region 7B-AAA), as they could seemingly do no wrong. They managed to move the ball at will thanks to some big rushing plays.

Flowery Branch also clamped down on North Hall's offense, not allowing a touchdown until the final minute of the game.

The Falcons even found a way to convert on all three fourth-down attempts on the night.

"We constantly talk about getting better as a team, and were able to score 35 points tonight against a quality opponent," Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw said. "I really feel like we're starting to peak at the right time."

Shaw said that Lipscomb's play just showed his athletic ability and knack for being at the right place at the right time. The senior wide receiver was right on the scene in the backfield when the ball hit the ground.

Lipscomb said his first instinct was to simply lay down on the ball to avoid a turnover. But he changed his mind and decided to roll the dice, scooping up the loose ball and turning to run. It turned out to be the right move. He picked up the fumble, made a couple defenders miss and went untouched for the score.

"Chris is dangerous on stuff like that," Shaw added. "It was just a heads up play on his part."

That touchdown by Lipscomb seemed to open things up for Flowery Branch's running game. The Falcons were content with challenging North Hall (3-3, 2-0 Region 7A-AAA) to stop their running game. They finished with 303 yards rushing in what is traditionally a more pass-happy oriented spread offense.

Flowery Branch junior quarterback Connor Shaw finished with a game-high 131 rushing yards and a 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Falcons senior fullback Daniel Drummond finished with two touchdown runs and 82 yards.

"I think they were trying to take Daniel away, and Connor had some good reads tonight," Shaw said. "That's the danger of that offense that if you don't play great assignment football, and we can read it right then something's going to bust."

The story for North Hall in the first half was the complete opposite. The Trojans couldn't seem avoiding making crucial mistakes. North Hall had three consecutive bad snaps on punt attempts in the first half that led to two short Flowery Branch touchdown drives.

The Trojans also had a fumble on the first play of a second-quarter drive, right after the kick returner failed to field the ball cleanly. North Hall's quarterback was also pressured all night, leading to an interception by Rodriquez Frazier, thanks in large part to a strong pass rush by Falcons senior defensive end Izaan Cross.

"I thought we choked in the first half," North Hall coach Bob Christmas said.

The only bright spots for the Trojans came in the fourth quarter. North Hall senior running back Matt Christmas had a 64-yard run in the final minutes and finished the game with 86 yards. The Trojans' only touchdown came on an 8-yard run by Graham Duncan with only 17 seconds left.

Nathan Jones had a good game for North Hall in the secondary with a pair of interceptions.

With the win, Flowery Branch keeps pace with Gainesville (7-0, 3-0) as the top contenders for the Region 7-AAA title. The Falcons and Red Elephants go head-to-head on the final night of the regular season at City Park. Shaw says that his main concern for now is getting ready to play East Hall next week.

"We have to make sure to take care of these next two games first," Shaw said. "I know East Hall is going to be ready to play us, and then we have to play a tough West Forsyth team."

North Hall is essentially eliminated from region championship contention after losing head-to-head to both Gainesville and Flowery Branch. But the Trojans are still undefeated in the subregion and can still earn one of the two playoff spots on that side.

Flowery Branch visits East Hall next Friday. North Hall plays host to Pickens at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at The Brickyard.

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