FLOWERY BRANCH — Flowery Branch wasted little time in jumping on Luella.
In fact, it took just 7 seconds for the Falcons to take a quick lead that would eventually turn into a 40-7 victory in the two teams Class 4A first-round playoff game at Falcons Field Saturday night.
Flowery Branch (9-2) now will move to take on No. 1 Marist in next week’s second round. The two teams were part of Region 7-4A the past two seasons. The War Eagles whipped Central-Carroll 49-0 on Saturday.
The Falcons could not have drawn up a better start against the Lions.
Luella took the ball first but a bad snap on the opening play led to a safety. Branch took the ensuing kickoff and used the short field to eventually settle for a 27-yard Maddux Trujillo field goal.
The defense then forced a quick three-and-out and a short punt. Jaizen Elligham capped a fast 2-play drive with a 6-yard TD run for a 12-0 lead just 2:10 into the game. The score was set up by a 25-yard pass from David Renard to Baxley O'Brien.
The Lions finally got its offense going, driving to the Falcons’ 23 late in the first quarter. But on a 4th-and-5, quarterback Destin Ingram was sacked, fumbled, and the Falcons recovered and returned it to their own 43. Seven plays later Renard found tight end Sal Sengson for a 16-yard touchdown pass for a 19-0 lead just 40 seconds into the second quarter.
The Falcons forced another Luella punt and the offense went back to work. Renard hit Sengson for a 40-yard pass to the Lions 34 and two plays later Renard scored on a 10-yard scramble to push the lead to 26-0 with just over 8 minutes left in the half.
After a Max Eubanks interception of an Ingram pass at the Falcons 25, Renard connected on passes of 6, 16, and 7 and had a 26-yard scramble down to the Lions 10. After a Branch penalty, Ellingham capped the drive with a 15-yard TD run for a 33-0 lead.
The Falcons capped off the big first half with a 37-yard strike from Renard to Camo Campbell for a 40-0 lead.
With a running clock in the second half, neither team played their regulars.
The Lions scored their only points midway through the fourth quarter on a short touchdown run.
Renard finished 15-of-20 passing for 249 yards and a pair TDs for Flowery Branch. Sengson had 2 catches for 56 yards and a touchdown catch, Ryan Lusco (36 yards) and Connor Larson (30 yards) each had 3 catches and O’Brien had 2 catches for 38 yards.
Ellingham had 33 yards and a pair of touchdowns in limited work for the Falcons.