GAINESVILLE -- In what was dubbed by Gainesville coach Bruce Miller a "sluggish" effort, the Red Elephants still ended up the victors by beating East Hall 41-10 on Friday night at Bobby Gruhn Field.
"We played sluggish," Miller said. "We didn't play with a lot of intensity, but that's OK. When you can play like that and still win it says a lot about your team."
T.J. Jones led the Gainesville (7-0, 3-0 Region 7B-AAA) offensive attack, amassing 163 yards receiving and two touchdowns on nine catches.
Red Elephants' quarterback Blake Sims, who only played a quarter and a half of football before being replaced by Mike Norman, was 7-of-9 passing for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
"T.J. can play," Miller said. "He made several great catches.
"Our plan coming in tonight was to get him the ball a little bit more and we were able to do that.
"We took (Sims) out as a precautionary measure," he added. "Mike Norman is a good little quarterback and we felt like he deserved to play some."
The Vikings (1-5, 0-2) attempted to gain quick momentum by catching Gainesville off-guard with an onside kick to start the game, but the Red Elephants recovered.
The result was a four-play Gainesville drive lasting 1:36 that ended in Sims hitting Jones with a 19-yard score.
East Hall would try more trickery on its next drive when Vikings' punter Christian Romero attempted a fake punt. The result was much the same as the first, with Gainesville taking over with good field position.
With the ball on East Hall's 47, it took Gainesville three plays and one minute to score. This time, Sims found Jones for a 33-yard passing touchdown.
Setting up the score was the first of what would be nine 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on East Hall. All-in-all, the Vikings would be penalized 15 times for more than 152 yards on the night.
"We had one mission in this game," East Hall coach Bryan Gray said. "We were going to come out and be as physical as we could be, and sometimes with young kids, they don't know when to stop the physicalness and that's fine.
"Penalties happened, but they were from effort and I have no problem with that."
Gainesville's sluggishness would begin to come into play on its third drive when Sims was intercepted by East Hall linebacker Corey Richardson.
Sims turned the ball over once more before being replaced by Norman. His fumble with four minutes to go in the second quarter resulted in East Hall's only touchdown, a 27-yard return by Vikings' senior linebacker Kiante Young that made the score 27-7.
"We played as hard as we could," Gray said. "We made a lot of mistakes and that happens.
"We came out here and people thought we would get run through and it would be a cakewalk, but we have a lot of heart."
Regardless of the turnovers, Sims had another stellar performance at the helm of a Red Elephants' offense that came into Friday's game averaging better than 30 points per contest. He not only passed for two touchdowns, but also rushed 8 yards for a touchdown.
That touchdown wasn't easy to come by, however, as East Hall's defense held Sims, who on the season has rushed for 9.2 yards per carry, to only those 8 yards on the ground.
Teryan Rucker led Gainesville in rushing with 77 yards on nine carries. Devon Pierce had 36 yards on six carries with touchdown runs of 5 and 4 yards.
Gainesville's only other score of the game came on an 8-yard pass from Norman to Nick Johnson. Norman finished the game 6-of-14 passing for 54 yards.
Gainesville's defense was again dominant, holding East Hall to a 1.9-yard rushing average and a field goal, a 43-yarder by Chrisel Flores.
East Hall quarterback Desmon Gardner led the way for the Vikings' offense, going 12-of-22 passing for 130 yards. His favorite target was senior Andrew Ivester, who had three catches for 68 yards.
Gainesville returns to action in two weeks when it plays host to Gilmer at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24.
"After seven games, we're bumped and bruised," Miller said. "We're beat up a little bit so we'll take this off week to heal and get back healthy."
East Hall returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday when it plays host to Flowery Branch.