Winning a rivalry game isn’t just about getting the win and it’s not just about being the best. Oftentimes, defeating a rival comes down to one thing: bragging rights.
Gainesville’s leading receiver, and Division-I prospect, Tai-ler Jones certainly thinks so.
“It’s more of a motivation,” Jones said. “You want to do your best in a rivalry game. You want to have those bragging rights.”
Coming into last week’s game against rival North Hall, Jones only had one touchdown on the season for the No. 1-ranked Red Elephants (4-0).
That all turned around when Jones caught 10 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Red Elephants to a 55-12 win over the Trojans at City Park on Friday. He also got the scoring started with a 49-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
“It was just his time,” Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said of the senior. “He’s going to keep getting the ball more and more. He runs great routes. He’s got great speed. It’s going to be tough for anyone to cover him one-on-one.”
It was a great night for Jones, but not perfect. A feat he has yet to accomplish in his high school football career still eludes him: a punt return for a touchdown.
“It felt horrible,” said Jones of his 58-yard touchdown punt return that was called back on a holding penalty. “I was so excited. It finally happened and then I saw the yellow flag.”
A negated point here-and-there was not enough to discourage Jones as he went on to score on a screen pass on the next play.
When asked about the upcoming games Jones said to expect: “The same performance I had last week, a better team leader, and to push my team to win a state championship.”
The Red Elephants return to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday when they travel to West Hall (0-4) in the 7A-AAA subregion opener.
Matthew Patton, Banks County: 82 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown in a win over Rabun County.
Austin Brown, Habersham Central: 17-for-24 for 225 passing yards and two touchdowns in a win over Loganville.
Ben Souther, Chestatee: 27 carries for 196 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Flowery Branch.
Imani Cross, Flowery Branch: 12 carries for 138 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Chestatee.
Connor Shaw, Flowery Branch: 10-for-16 with 201 passing yards and three touchdowns in a win over Chestatee.
Blake Sims, Gainesville: 14-for-21 with 275 passing yards and four touchdowns in a win over North Hall.
AJ Johnson, Gainesville: 15 tackles against North Hall.
Thomas Sprague, Gainesville: 14 tackles against North Hall.
David Griffin, Habersham Central: 129 rushing yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns in a win over Loganville.
Lucas Redd, Jefferson: 117 rushing yards for two touchdowns, and nine tackles in a win over Oglethorpe County.
Darius Minor, Jefferson: 4-for-6 with 149 passing yards and two touchdowns in a win over Oglethorpe County.
JJ Damons, Jefferson: 77 receiving yards with two touchdowns against Oglethorpe County.
Chris Jackson, Jefferson: Five tackles with a sack and an interception against Oglethorpe County.
Nathan Jones, North Hall: Nine carries for 85 yards, and 59 passing yards with a touchdown against Gainesville.
Joe Boonstra, North Georgia Christian: 99 passing yards and three touchdowns in a win over Skipstone.
Zach Pendley, North Georgia Christian: 119 yards on seven receptions and four touchdowns against Skipstone.
John Swilley, Towns County: 12-for-14 with 162 yards and three touchdowns win over Hayesville (N.C.).
Matt Hogsed, Towns County: Four catches for 86 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Hayesville (N.C.).
Matt Beni, Towns County: 14 carries with 107 yards and two touchdowns against Hayesville (N.C).
Shunquez Stephens, West Hall: 16-for-28 with 157 passing yards and a touchdown on the ground in a loss to White County.
Ashely Lowry, White County: 10 carries for 166 yards and a touchdown in a win over West Hall.