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Flowery Branch wins 28-0, earns first trip to state final
Drummond's three TDs spark Falcons to fourth straight road playoff win
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Flowery Branch's Daniel Drummond runs past LaGrange's Devon Smith during Friday's state semifinal game at Callaway Stadium. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

LAGRANGE – Flowery Branch’s football team has a chance to make Hall County history.

The Falcons earned a 28-0 win over LaGrange on Friday night in the Class AAA state semifinals to earn a berth in next Saturday’s state title game at the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons have the opportunity to become the first Hall County football team to ever win a GHSA football state title.

Flowery Branch Coach Lee Shaw was one of the happiest people in the stadium after the game, celebrating the moment with the program he opened the doors with seven years ago.

Players and fans also to take the moment to celebrate with the huge fan base that followed the Falcons down to Callaway Stadium for this game.

Pictures, hugs and pats on the back were all part of the postgame festivities on Callaway Stadium’s sprint turf.

"I’m so proud of these guys," Shaw said. "Our goal was to play for a state title and we’re going to get that chance next week.

"This was an incredible team effort."

It was all hugs and celebrations for the Falcons who are continuing their improbable run through the playoffs.

"This is just incredible," Flowery Branch senior Izaan Cross said. "We all love each other on this team."

Flowery Branch will face Cairo in the state title game at 5 p.m. next Saturday at the Georgia Dome. Cairo defeated Carver-Columbus 42-13 on Friday night.

The No. 3 Falcons (12-2) have battled the odds to make it to the state title game. Flowery Branch earned all four of its playoff victories (Stephens County, Ridgeland, Baldwin and LaGrange) on the road this season.

Flowery Branch is the only third seed playing for a state title this season after Fitzgerald lost to Buford on Friday night.

Flowery Branch senior defensive back Greg Palmer helped secure the win with an interception in his own end zone with the Falcons leading 14-0 and with 8:26 left to play. It made amends for his fumble on a LaGrange punt just three plays earlier.

But in the end it all came down to the Drummond factor.

Just as in last week’s state quarterfinal win against Baldwin, the Falcons’ 245-pound bruising running back took control of the game.

After Palmer’s interception, the Falcons secured the win when Drummond ran 81 yards for his second touchdown of the game. He finished with a career-high 258 yards on 22 carries.

"I’m just speechless right now," Drummond said. "This is the greatest feeling in the world playing for a state title next week."

Drummond, who has verbally committed to Georgia Tech, also scored on touchdown runs of 63 and 5 yards.

"Daniel was an animal out there tonight," Cross added.

"Daniel took the game over just like he did last week against Baldwin," Falcons quarterback Connor Shaw said.

Flowery Branch took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter when quarterback Connor Shaw hit wide receiver Rod Frazier for a 74-yard touchdown pass. Frazier also had a fourth-quarter interception.

Connor Shaw finished the game 5-for-14 passing for 95 yards and one touchdown.

Flowery Branch’s defense can also take credit for its berth in the state title game. LaGrange had too many dropped passes, had numerous passes defended and threw two interceptions.

Grangers quarterback Rodney Tolbert completed 5-of-15 passes for 29 yards. LaGrange also fumbled the football four times, but managed to recover them all.

"Our defense just played amazing tonight," Lee Shaw added.

LaGrange’s leading running back Ocie Salter finished with 14 carries for 101 yards.

The Grangers’ (11-3) season is now complete.

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