Wednesday May 25th, 2016 1:13PM

Shaw, defense lead Falcons into AAA quarterfinals

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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ROSSVILLE - For anyone who dared listen before the season began, Flowery Branch football coach Lee Shaw said he believed the 2008 team had a chance to be the best in school history.

After Friday night's thrilling 21-14 win over Ridgeland in the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs, the current Falcons team will get a chance to prove him right.

Connor Shaw connected with Robbie Boudreau for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 4:30 left in the game and then the Flowery Branch defense held on the rest of the way to preserve the win.

"It was a total team effort," Lee Shaw said. "The offense made some big plays and the defense played one of its best games of the season. Ridgeland is as athletic and skilled as any team we've played this year."

After spending a day in the beautiful northwest Georgia mountains, the Falcons (10-2) next will head to Milledgeville in the middle of the state to take on Baldwin (12-0) in the quarterfinals.

The Falcons can make Lee Shaw look like a prophet next week with a win. No Falcons team has ever advanced past the third round.

"This is a unique team in that they play better when they are relaxed and they were very loose before the game," Lee Shaw said. "I knew they were going to play well. Right now we're not worried about whether we have a chance to make history or anything like that. We're just going to try and get ready to play our next opponent, which is a very good football team."

So was Ridgeland, who was led by 6-foot-5 receiver Michael Bowman, who has committed to Alabama. The Panthers came in riding an eight-game winning streak. Bowman caught one TD pass but Shaw said the play of cornerback Chris Lipscomb was a key to the win.

"It was a great battle between the two of them all night," Shaw said. "Bowman got some catches but Chris really limited the big plays and that was a key part of our success in holding them down."

The Falcons took the initial lead on a 15-yard TD pass from Connor Shaw to Rod Frazier in the second quarter. Ridgeland answered back on its next possession but Flowery Branch retook the lead late in the first half on a 7-yard TD run from Imani Cross.

The score stayed that way until early in the fourth quarter when Ridgeland tied the game. The Falcons answered that score with Boudreau's game-winning catch and then let the defense take over. Flowery Branch held Ridgeland to 324 yards of offense

Shaw finished 12-for-15 with 173 yards and no interceptions to go with the two TD passes. Cross finished with 43 yards rushing on 13 carries.
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