Monday January 17th, 2022 4:51PM
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Red Elephants hold off Winder-Barrow second-half charge

By AccessWDUN Staff | Video by Brandon Warner

WINDER — Gainesville's offense was tough to stop Friday night at W. Clair Harris Stadium. 

The Red Elephants (4-4, 2-1 Region 8-6A) used their beef upfront to power a steady rushing attack and used the pass when they needed it to rack up 533 total yards of offense en route to a 38-29 win over Winder-Barrow (2-6, 1-2 Region 8-6A). 

"The offensive line played well,' Gainesville coach Heath Webb said. "We played really well against a good defensive front. Of course, they made their plays here and there. But because we were able to run the ball so well, we were able to use a little play-action to get the ball down the field to set up some big plays for us, too. "

Gionni Williams used his legs and mixed in his on-target arm, gaining 152 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns while passing for another 107 yards on a 7-for-11 night and a score. 

"We were able to throw the football to score just because we were running the football so well," Webb said.

JD Brooks finished with 23 carries for 105 yards and a score and Dez Brown turned in 95 yards on 10 carries. 

But the play of the night was the first play of the game when Williams took the snap and flipped back to Walt Dixon. Dixon launched a 66-yard bomb to Lenny Chatman for the Red Elephants' first score of the game. 

Down 14-0 at the half, the Bulldoggs sparked their second-half offensive run when JC Green took the opening kickoff for an 89-yard touchdown. Jhayden Sullivan converted a two-point try to cut the lead 14-8. It was one of two returns that led to points for the Bulldogs and the return sparked a 29-point half.

"Special teams cost of us, that allowed them to stay in the game," Webb said. "We gave up a TD and another kickoff return that put them in the red zone that led to a score. I'm proud of them for playing hard but the coach in me wants to get that fixed now."

Then the back-and-forth began. 

Gainesville answered the kickoff return with Williams hitting Chatman on a 22-yard scoring pass. 

The Bulldoggs scored on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Sullivan to Brent Landis on the ensuing drive.

A Gainesville interception and a Winder-Barrow punt were the only non-scoring drives of the third quarter. 

Big Red scored again on a 9-yard Williams run with :46 seconds left in the third quarter. 

In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs put together a drive that ended with a 41-yard strike to Landis with 11:57 left in the game. 

Gainesville capped an 80-yard drive with a 9-yard Williams run with 11:23 to go in the fourth. 

The scoring storm calmed for a few minutes, just over 5 minutes to be exact, when Sullivan scored on a 1-yard run to inch the Bulldoggs within six points, but a Giovanni Martinez 24-yard field goal essentially iced the game.  

"The maturation process of our team has been big," Webb said. "We're getting better. We're doing a lot of things that the people in the stands on Friday night will never see. Those things are making a difference. I'm really proud of what our guys are doing."

The Red Elephants can lock up a playoff berth with a win over Apalachee on Friday at City Park. If they beat the Wildcats, a No. 2 seed will be in play when they host Lanier on Nov. 8. 

It's a good spot," Webb said. "We control our own destiny for that home playoff game. The two games that we control our destining in is at City Park. You can't ask for any more than that. We're in a good spot."

  • Associated Categories: Sports, High School Sports, Friday Game Night, Sports Video
  • Associated Tags: Gainesville football
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