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Monday January 17th, 2022 5:42PM
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No. 1 Marist too much for Falcons in 7-4A showdown

By Jeff Hart | Video by Seth Chapman

FLOWERY BRANCH — No. 1 Marist held Flowery Branch to just 193 total yards and turned a pair of turnovers into scores en route to a 27-0 win Friday night in a critical Region 7-4A battle at Falcon Field.

The War Eagles (9-0, 5-0 Region 7-4A) used their defense to set the tone sandwiching a pair of Branch 3-and-outs to open the game around a 77-yard, 10-play drive that quarterback Connor Cigelske capped with a 1-yard TD run for a 7-0 lead.

It stayed that way until the final minute of the first half as both teams traded turnovers, with the Falcons picking off Cigelske twice for his first interceptions of the season.

But the Falcons could get little going offensively. The War Eagles also struggled against the Falcons stout unit until Cigelske finished off a short drive with a 14-yard TD run with just 55 seconds left for a 14-0 lead.

Disaster then struck two plays for the Falcons. The War Eagles picked up a Branch fumble and returned deep into Falcons territory and Cigelske made them pay again with a 9-yard TD pass Derek McDonald for a 21-0 lead with just 13 seconds left in the half.

"The difference was they turned the two turnovers they got into points and we didn't," Flowery Branch coach Ben Hall said. "Against great teams like Marist you can't have turnovers and untimely penalties and we had both. But if you take away those two scores off our turnovers we were right with them most of the night."

The defenses controlled the second half until Cigelske scored on a 52-yard run in the final minute for the final points.

Cigelske finished with 72 yards on the ground and 109 yards passing. The War Eagles were deadly on third down converting 6 of 8 chances as the Falcons defense, which came in allowing just 9.7 points per game, had trouble stopping their power run game.

The Flowery Branch offense, which came in averaging 33.1 ppg, was just 2-of-10 on third down. Jaizen Ellingham and Chandler White, who came in averaging over 220 yards a game combined, were held to just 122 yards on 25 carries.

The Falcons (6-2, 2-2) dropped to fourth place in the region standings but could still finish third if they can win out, which includes a season finale showdown with third place Denmark in two weeks.

"We still feel very about our team and where we are right now," Hall said. "The thing is to get in the playoffs. If you do that and can get a win in that first round, you have a chance to make a run. It's still there for us to do that."

  • Associated Categories: Sports, High School Sports, Friday Game Night
  • Associated Tags: High school football, Flowery Branch football
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