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Gainesville utilizes string of first-half blocked punts to beat Stockbridge, 49-23, in football opener
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Gainesville High football players and coaches practice Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at Bruce Miller Field for the upcoming season. - photo by Scott Rogers

Gainesville only had a couple weeks to prepare for Stockbridge, but made a lot of big plays in the 2020 season opener. 

The Red Elephants turned three first-half blocked punts into touchdowns, rolling to a 49-23 win against the Tigers. 

After trading early touchdowns, Gainesville’s JQ Drinkard scored on a 42-yard pass from senior quarterback Gionni Williams, late in the first quarter. Gainesville’s score to tie it at 14-14 was set up by Qua Coley’s blocked punt. 

Stacy Hopkins and Yusif Ali also blocked punts in the second quarter that were returned for touchdowns for the Red Elephants, which pushed them ahead 28-14 in the second quarter. 

Naim Cheeks scored on a 7-yard run late in the third quarter, his second of the game, giving the Red Elephants a 35-17 lead late in the third quarter. 

Williams added a pair of running touchdowns in the fourth quarter for Gainesville. 

The Red Elephants were forced in August to find a new opponent in Week 1 after Fulton County Schools delayed the start of the season two additional weeks for coronavirus precautions. Gainesville was originally scheduled to play John’s Creek and Chattahoochee, both Fulton County Schools, to open the season. 

Gainesville added Stockbridge to its schedule on August 21.

After a bye next week, Gainesville will visit Flowery Branch on September 18.

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