It couldn’t have started much worse for Flowery Branch.
On a first-and-15 from their own 35 in the first quarter, the Falcons botched a snap directly into both a swarm of blue jerseys and the hands of Denmark linebacker CJ Ford, giving the Danes the game’s first takeaway and a much-needed spark.
The very next play, quarterback Aaron McLaughlin found fellow Auburn commit Ze’Vian Capers over the middle on a slant-route, feeding his favorite target in stride and watching him break the lone would-be tackler between him and the first of his two scores during Denmark’s 34-14 win against Flowery Branch.
“We started slow, which is something we definitely can’t do in the playoffs,” McLaughlin said. “It’s kind of been a trend with us. Once we get settled in though and start playing as a team, that’s when we start clicking like that.”
Falcons finished with more 200 rushing yards — 70 of them coming on a long run
by Jaizen Ellingham — they only managed one additional score on a perfectly thrown
pass by quarterback David Renard that landed precisely in the hands of tight
end Baxely O’Brien.
With the loss, Flowery Branch (7-3, 3-3 Region 7-4A) will open the playoffs at top-ranked Cartersville on Friday.
Despite initial gains of four and five yards on each possession, the potent Flowery Branch rushing attack never seemed to fully be able to take control of the game following their opening drive.
“We’ve been very good against the run all year long,” Denmark coach Terry Crowder said. “I was worried about our size, and that Justin Hunter was out this week, but the kids stepped up. We’re tough against the run. We’re a tough, tough run defense.”