BOGART — For three quarters the Flowery Branch defense was almost impregnable Friday night.
Unfortunately, the North Oconee offense found some early holes for two quick first-quarter scores and eventually made that stand up in a 14-7 win in a crucial Region 8-4A contest for both teams.
The loss was a tough one for the eighth-ranked Falcons (3-3, 0-2 Region 8-4A) who are now 2 1/2 games behind both the Titans (4-3, 3-0 Region 8-4A) and Class 4A No. 1 Jefferson. The Falcons also dropped to fifth place, one game behind Chestatee and 1 1/2 games behind Cedar Shoals in the region standings.
North Oconee needed just four plays to grab the lead when Max Wilson connected on a 64-yard touchdown pass to Khalil Barnes less than two minutes in.
Wilson pushed the lead to 14-0 with an 18-yard scoring run late in the first quarter.
The Falcons answered that with a 17-play, 9:40 drive capped by a 3-yard touchdown run from Myles Ivey deep into the second quarter.
The Flowery Branch defense forced six North Oconee punts over the final three quarters, including a crucial third-down stop in the fourth quarter to give the Branch offense one last chance. But the Titans' defense held and the North Oconee offense ran out the clock to move into a first-place tie with Jefferson.
Branch finished with 170 yards rushing as Ivey had 89 yards on 23 carries and David Renard added 67 yards on 11 carries. But Renard was held to 5-of-11 passing for just 44 yards and one interception.
Wilson was a one-man wrecking crew rushing for 119 yards and throwing for another 100 to account for 219 of the Titans' 262 total yards for the game.
The Titans close out the regular season against the Dragons in Jefferson in three weeks.