STOCKBRIDGE — It was a special teams kind of night for Gainesville.
The Red Elephants cashed in three blocked punts for 21 points en route to a 49-23 rout over Stockbridge Friday night on the road.
After a rocky start that led to a 14-7 deficit, the Red Elephants' punt block unit grabbed the momentum with three blocked punts -- two were scooped and scored and one led to a big-play touchdown. Quay Coley and Stacy Hopkins blocked back-to-back punts, providing the jolt of energy to the Red Elephants
Coley swatted the first punt, firing off the right side of the line, to lay out just as the kick lofted off the punter's foot. The Red Elephants fell on it on the Tigers' 42-yard line and on the next play, senior quarterback Gionni Williams hit JQ Drinkard for the 42-yard scoring strike.
On Tigers next series, Hopkins, again off the right side, smacked the Stockbridge punt, and Lemuel Gayle scooped the loose ball up and darted 20 yards for the score to push the Red Elephants up 21-7. Later in the quarter, Yusif Ali picked up the third punt block and scampered for paydirt, giving the Red Elephants a 28-14 lead.
With the Red Elephants in the driver's seat at the end of the first half, Gainesville's offense continued to speed in the second thanks to key offensive line play that opened up holes for Naim Cheeks and Williams to show out. The defense was in lockdown mode, holding the Tigers to just 10 points in the second half, while scoring 21 points.
Gainesville (1-0) is off next week, but will travel to rival Flowery Branch on Sept. 18.