Wednesday September 22nd, 2021 11:50PM

Branch holds off Tigers in high-scoring affair

By Tim Whitmire

DAWSONVILLE — This one was a classic battle of two potent offenses that couldn’t stop each other. 

Flowery Branch and Dawson County traded punches in the second half and racked up more than 1,000 combined yards and 87 points but the Falcons rallied from ten points down twice in the contest, scoring 21 unanswered points to down the Tigers 45-42 at Tiger Stadium on Friday.

"We got a couple of key stops when we needed them late," Flowery Branch coach Ben Hall said on the Hardy Chevy Scoreboard Show. "We're growing each week. I'm just proud of the guys pulling it out."

Falcon quarterback David Renard compiled 387 yards through the air, going 15-for-21 with a touchdown, while Jaizen Ellingham racked up five touchdowns and 131 rushing yards. Connor Larson was Renard's favorite target, catching eight passes for 182 yards. Sal Sengson hauled in four Renard passes for 134 yards.  

After managing only seven points in their opening week, the Tigers got their historically high scoring offense back on track behind the play of junior quarterback Zack Holtzclaw. He connected with seven different receivers, going 24-for-31 with 375 yards and four touchdowns. 

The Branch, however, scored first, quickly taking the opening drive in for Ellingham’s first score, a one-yard run, with 8:18 in the first quarter.

Dawson County matched the Falcons' offensive precision by answering with consecutive scores, Holtzclaw passes to Tyler Lane and Jaden Gibson for 26 and 11 yards, to take a 13-7 lead. 

After the Falcons responded with a 36-yard Maddox Trujillo field goal, Holtzclaw connected with Isaiah Grindle for a 53-yard score to push the Tigers ahead, 20-10, with 7:21 remaining in the half.

The first half offense was not complete, however, as the Falcons assembled scoring drives of 70 and 65 yards to claim a 24-20 halftime lead. 

The Tigers opened up the second half with a pair of scoring drives on their first two possessions to reclaim a 10-point advantage. The opening drive was the result of Holtzclaw’s fourth touchdown pass, a 28-yard strike to Tray Cohen. Dawson’s second drive was set up by a Gibson interception on the ensuing Falcon drive. The Tigers quickly advanced the 45 yards for a Grindle rushing score of 3-yards to build another ten-point lead 34-24 with 6:52 remaining in the third.

The Branch completed its final offensive attacks with three consecutive scoring drives that culminated with Ellingham scores of 16, 10, and 4 yards and building a 45-34 lead with 6:05 remaining in the game.

The Tigers mounted one final scoring attack with an 80-yard drive that ended in a Gibson score -- his second -- this time from the ground, a 17-yard run with 3:00 remaining.  Gibson scampered in for the two-point conversion to cut the score to a field goal, 45-42.

Flowery Branch ran the clock down to 33 seconds with a 59-yard drive that ended on downs at the Tiger one-yard line and after gaining a first down, an errant Tiger snap with nine-seconds left was scooped up by the Falcons.  

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Branch holds off Tigers in high-scoring affair
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