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High school football: Gainesville falls to Denmark 24-21
Red Elephants rallied from three touchdown hole to tie the game in the fourth quarter
Gainesville
Gainesville running back Naim Cheeks (14) runs against Denmark during Friday's game in Alpharetta. Photo by David Roberts Forsyth County News

BY DAVID ROBERTS

Forsyth County News

Gionni Williams scored a late 12-yard touchdown to tie the game, but Denmark responded with a 10-play scoring drive that spanned 66 yards and melted 4 minutes off the clock, allowing the Danes to win 24-21 Friday. 

Aaron McLaughlin completed 2 of 3 passes for 34 yards during the drive, while Brandon Britton accounted for 48 yards, setting up Trey Glymph’s 24-yard, game-winning field goal. 

Gainesville got the ball with 1:53 left in the game, but a couple of short passes and an incompletion had the Red Elephants (5-4, 3-2 Region 6-7A) staring down a fourth-and-8. Williams tucked the ball and managed to get back to the line of scrimmage, where he was met by Austin DeCarlo and several other Denmark defenders.  

Williams completed 8 of 13 passes for 116 yards, including a 76-yard TD pass to JQ Drinkard.  

A 63-yard TD run by Naim Cheeks in the second quarter got Gainesville on the board and chipped into Denmark’s 21-0 lead.  

Cheeks rushed 17 times for 128 yards and the score. 

Prior to Cheeks’ run, Gainesville had accrued just 40 yards on 13 plays. Elias Ballard fumbled after taking a jet sweep up the left side, which allowed McLaughlin to find Azari Brown in the corner of the end zone for a 21-yard TD 

McLaughlin, who was hobbled by a leg injury, completed 14 of 19 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns. 

Denmark’s quarterback also had a 50-yard score to Brown and a 15-yard strike to Teddy Davenport to build Denmark’s three-score lead. 

Gainesville’s longest drive of the night came at the beginning of the third quarter, when the Red Elephants ran 14 plays — all but two were running plays — marching down to the Danes’ 16-yard line. 

But Gainesville kicker Giovanni Martinez missed a 33-yard field goal that would have made it a 21-10 game.  

The Red Elephants’ offense began to click after the missed field goal, as Drinkard’s 76-yard run capped a two-play, 80-yard drive, then a nine-play, 77-yard drive ended with Williams’ 12-yard TD run.  

Drinkard caught seven passes for 132 yards to lead the Red Elephants.  

With the loss, Gainesville wraps up the regular season against North Forsyth on Nov. 20 at City Park Stadium. 

The Red Elephants have already locked up a playoff berth with seeding still up for grabs. 

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