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High school football: Gainesville's last-minute touchdown on fumble return, failed 2-point try result in loss to Hillgrove 28-27
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Gainesville High quarterback Gionni Williams cuts a way from Flowery Branch defenders Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, during the first half of their game at The Branch. - photo by Scott Rogers

Gainesville was willing to roll the dice late in Friday’s matchup against Hillgrove, especially since it was a non-region contest. This time, it didn’t pan out for the Red Elephants. 

However, the final minute of play made for plenty of excitement against Hillgrove at City Park Stadium.

Junior defensive lineman Khaliq Maddox scooped up a loose ball and ran it back 60 yards for a Gainesville touchdown. Given the option of trying to tie or go for the win, Red Elephants (3-2) coach Heath Webb rolled the dice and went for the 2-point try, which failed and Hillgrove walked away with a 28-27 win. 

Still, the confidence is high for Gainesville with five more region games left on the schedule, which will determine who goes to the postseason out of Region 6-7A. 

“The effort you saw tonight is the effort we give in practice everyday and that has translated to the game field,” Webb said. 

Trailing by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, sophomore Naim Cheeks got Gainesville right back in the game with a 45-yard run on third and long, then punched it in from 9-yards out to make it a 21-14 deficit. 

Cheeks also scored in the first half with a 15-yard touchdown reception from senior quarterback Gionni Williams. 

Lenny Chatman, a senior made the scoring drive possible with his first of two picks for the Red Elephants. 

Again, down by two touchdowns in the second half, Jonquavies Drinkard caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Williams. 

Up next, Gainesville faces Lambert on Friday in Gainesville. 

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