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High school football: Gainesville lands 28-14 knockout against South Forsyth
Red Elephants move to 3-0 in Region 6-7A
Naim Cheeks
Gainesville's Naim Cheeks runs with the ball against South Forsyth on Friday in Cumming. Photo by David Roberts Forsyth County News

Gainesville continued its perfect run through Region 6-7A Friday evening with a 28-14 road victory over South Forsyth. The Red Elephants (5-2, 3-0 Region 6-7A) forced five turnovers in the contest to move to 3-0 in region play so far this year, a position that Gainesville head coach Heath Webb is happy to be in. 

“Everybody told us we can’t play 7A football,” Webb said after the game. “We used it as fuel and came out here and showed that we belong and we can play at this level.”

Gionni Williams led the way offensively for the Red Elephants, rushing 10 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns, and completing 5 of 9 passing attempts for 55 yards, a touchdown and an interception. South Forsyth senior Devin McGlockton hauled in nine catches for 147 yards and a touchdown, but the effort was not enough to pull the War Eagles to victory. South Forsyth falls to 4-2 on the year and 1-2 in region play. 

Gainesville got the scoring started midway through the first quarter with a 42-yard scamper down the right sideline from JQ Drinkard off a reverse to go up 7-0 early. South Forsyth answered halfway through the second frame with a 1-yard plunge from quarterback Kyle Durham, but the Red Elephants answered on the ensuing possession with an 18-yard passing score from Williams to Sam Perry right before the half. 

The War Eagles evened things up with a touchdown toss from Durham to McGlockton on their first possession of the third quarter, but it was the last points South Forsyth would put on the scoreboard. 

Williams added a 50-yard touchdown run in the third period and an 8-yard scoring rush in the fourth, and Gainesville grabbed a pair of interception in the final frame to ice the game and push their region winning streak to three games. 

“Our kids came out here and executed,” Webb said. “Really proud of our guys.”

WINNING THE TURNOVER BATTLE

Perhaps the biggest key to Friday’s win for Gainesville was its 5-1 turnover differential that kept the South Forsyth offense off the field for much of the contest. 

Xavier Ramsey got things started with a one-handed pick off Durham early in the first that set up the Red Elephants first score, and Quamaine Rucker picked up another turnover on the very next War Eagle possession by falling on a fumble. 

Gainesville added another turnover off a forced fumble on a kickoff late in the third quarter, and Jahleel Rivas-Dicks and Yusif Ali both hauled in interceptions in the fourth, with every turnover play proving crucial to the Red Elephant victory. 

“So many guys stepped up,” Webb said. “I’m proud of our defensive staff for making some changes in some defensive scheme that they thought would be beneficial for us. Heck of a job by those guys. But really just proud of the kids for making plays.”

GAINESVILLE’S NEW X(AVIER)-FACTOR

One of the stars of the first half Friday evening was a newer face for the Red Elephants, Xavier Ramsey. Webb said a defensive schematic change got Ramsey on the field more this week, and it paid off. 

First, he brought in a one-handed interception early in the first quarter that would set up Gainesville’s first score of the game. Then, in the second, Ramsey took a kickoff back 25 yards into South Forsyth territory, setting up the Red Elephants second touchdown drive. 

Webb said the decision to play Ramsey more “obviously paid off,” and the Red Elephant faithful can expect to see more of  No. 18 in the games to come. 

“Really proud of him and what he brought to the team tonight,” Webb said.

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