mostlycloudy
Friday May 29th, 2015 10:29AM

Gainesville rips South Paulding, 51-12, to move into quarterfinals

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
GAINESVILLE -- Gainesville's offense came into Friday with an itch to scratch.

Turns out South Paulding made the perfect scratching post.

After last week's up-and-down, first-round performance, the Red Elephants blitzed the Spartans, including an explosive third quarter in a 51-12 second round playoff victory at City Park.

"We wanted to come out and play well tonight; we had not played a complete game in two games really, and I challenged the guys to do that tonight, and they responded," Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said.

The Red Elephants did just that, taking a 24-6 halftime lead before cruising back into the quarterfinals for the third straight season courtesy a 27-point third quarter push.

Gainesville will take on Mundy's Mill at City Park next Friday in the third round.

Certainly the Red Elephants (11-1) would love a repeat of Friday's performance that saw the hosts roll up 637 yards -- almost double South Paulding's 317.

Red Elephants quarterback Deshaun Watson bounced back from last week's 20-yard passing performance to throw for 432 yards and five touchdowns, completing 25 of 35 attempts. He also added 107 yards rushing for good measure.

"We knew we had to come out and have firepower early because they could put up some points," Watson said. "And we did that."

Watson and the Gainesville attack proved especially ruthless in the third quarter, as the senior found Chastin Newman and Jay Gaudlock for touchdowns, while Michael Byrd (59 yards rushing, 34 yards receiving) added two 1-yard scoring runs to put the game out of reach.

"That was huge for us in the third quarter, because we knew the defense was stopping them and giving us opportunities," Watson said.

And with the way the half ended, the Red Elephants did not want to let their momentum slip away.

Leading 17-6 after a hardfought opening, the Red Elephants began to gain on the visitors -- and Watson and Orrin Ragland hooked up for perhaps the biggest turning point with 1:23 left in the half, as Watson heaved a deep pass down the middle for the speedster, who ran past two defenders to haul in the 68-yard strike.

"My coaches always say never underthrow the post (route) and I know Orrin can run," Watson said of the touchdown that made it 24-6.

Gaudlock proved Watson's top target, catching 10 passes for 134 yards, while Rodney Lackey hauled in five passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns; Newman also had three catches for 100 yards.

The Red Elephants got off to a near-perfect start, as Devan Stringer intercepted a third down pass on the opening possession to give Gainesville the ball at the South Paulding 20.

The Red Elephants could not punch the ball into the end zone but pulled ahead 3-0 on a 31-yard field goal from Gage Turner with 9:32 left in the first quarter.

Gainesville stretched its advantage to 10-0 with 6:28 left in the quarter, as Watson hit Lackey in the flat and watched the receiver sprint past the Spartans defense for a 20-yard score.

Yet South Paulding (10-2) was not bowed by its early struggles and put together an answering drive late in the first quarter, as Chandler Burks (107 yards rushing, 131 yards passing) burst through the line on fourth and five for a 35-yard scoring sprint. The point after attempt sailed wide to cut the Red Elephants' lead to 10-6.

For the next 12 minutes it was all about timely defense. South Paulding forced back-to-back turnovers on downs inside their own 30, while the Gainesville defense forced two punts before its offense finally got going again on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Watson to Lackey with 4:21 left in the half.

The Red Elephants defense then forced a turnover on downs at their own 32 -- setting up the 68-yard bomb to Ragland.

Turns out the Red Elephants were just warming up. And now they hope to keep that going into next week's quarterfinals.

"We're feeling pretty confident, but we've got to keep getting better," Watson said. "There are no slouches left at this point, and we've got to prepare even harder for the next round."

SCORING SUMMARY
S. Paulding....6......0......6....0 -- 12
Gainesville....10...14...27....0 -- 51

First Quarter
GHS -- Turner 31 field goal, 9:32, 3-0
GHS -- Lackey 20 pass from Watson (Turner kick) 6:28, 10-0
SPHS -- Burks 35 run (kick failed) 3:33, 10-6

Second Quarter
GHS -- Lackey 13 pass from Watson (Turner kick) 4:21, 17-6
GHS -- Ragland 68 pass from Watson (Turner kick) 1:23, 24-6

Third Quarter
GHS -- Byrd 1 run (Turner kick) 10:06, 31-6
GHS -- Newman 29 pass from Watson (kick failed) 6:52, 37-6
SPHS -- Bowen 51 run (run failed) 4:32, 37-12
GHS -- Gaudlock 15 pass from Watson (Turner kick) 3:14, 44-12
GHS -- Byrd 1 run (Turner kick) :30, 51-12
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 1 year ago )
Sports
Big Red Shootout: Buford foils Lady Elephants' upset bid in finale
Buford junior Camille Anderson knows to forget about the past during games.
11:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Boys basketball: Knights rebound with win over Centennial
The Johnson boys bounced back after a loss to Grayson on Friday with a 94-72 win Saturday night over Centennial in the Duluth Jingle Jam.
10:43PM ( 1 year ago )
Girls basketball: Dawson falls in Battle of States finals
Dawson County fell behind early and could not complete the comeback in a 70-65 loss to Hayesville, N.C. in the championship game of The Battle of the States Tournament Saturday night.
10:38PM ( 1 year ago )
High School Sports
Snelling to make curtain call at East-West Classic (Video)
Ask Walt Snelling about Gainesville football and you will be supplied with a litany of great players and games from a program with an illustrious history.
7:33PM ( 1 year ago )
High School football 2013: Superlatives abound after another special season
After letting it soak in for a few days we
7:42PM ( 1 year ago )
Friday Game Night
VIDEO: Spring sports standouts provided countless memories for area fans
It's been an incredible few months on the prep sports scene... And we've been lucky enough to see a lot of it in person.
By Bailey Pless
5:48PM ( 7 hours from now )
Ralston guns down another tournament title, sets personal bests in process
Gainesville prep golfer Spencer Ralston began his summer tournament schedule with a bang this week, winning the Orchard Hills Junior Classic in Newnan by firing an 18-under-par 126 over 36 holes.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:59AM ( 1 hour from now )
Georgia, ex-Habersham standout McCoy chosen as Nicklaus Award finalist
Georgia golfer Lee McCoy has been chosen as one of five finalists for the 2015 Division I Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award presented by Barbasol, the Golf Coaches Association of America announced Thursday.
By UGA Sports Communications
11:00AM ( 30 minutes from now )
NASCAR Notebook: Johnson looks for Dover win No. 10
Only four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have amassed 10 or more wins at a single track.
By NASCAR Wire Service
8:00AM ( 2 hours ago )
Giants use 6-run 8th to rout Braves
Brandon Belt's solo home run in the seventh inning broke up a scoreless pitching duel and the San Francisco Giants won their fourth straight, beating the Atlanta Braves 7-0 on Thursday night.
By The Associated Press
1:06AM ( 9 hours ago )