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Monday July 4th, 2022 1:13AM

Football: GHS drops 'frustrating' game to South Forsyth

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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GAINESVILLE — It was hard for Gainesville coach Heath Webb to hide the frustration and concern.

“That’s what it was -- frustrating for sure,” he said after the Red Elephants wasted a 3-0 halftime lead in what eventually turned into a tough 17-9 loss to South Forsyth at City Park Stadium.

“We moved the ball all over the field but we have to make plays and finish drives. We would go backward, just way too many holding penalties. That’s frustrating."

The concern came with just under two minutes left when sophomore quarterback Baxter Wright was injured on a scramble and had to be taken off on a stretcher.

Wright was talking and moving as he left the field.

“More precautionary than anything but we’ll see how things look over the next few days,” Webb said.

The Red Elephants (4-3, 1-2 Region 6-7A) were trying to force a tie for second place in the region with the War Eagles. Instead, they dropped into a tie for fifth in a wide-open region. The War Eagles, who improved to 4-1 on the road in 2021, jumped into a first-place tie with idle Denmark with the win.

“We’re still in this,” Webb said of the Red Elephants’ chances of still capturing a playoff spot. “It’s not a lack of effort from our guys. They’re playing their guts out. We’ve just to clean up the penalties and finish drives when we have a chance.”

Chunk plays for the War Eagles in the second half were the difference. Gainesville appeared to get the first huge break of the second half when the War Eagles fumbled the opening kickoff and Tyvez Bledson recovered at the South Forsyth 27. But the War Eagles defense held on downs at the 13.

After forcing a Gainesville punt, South Forsyth finally got its offense going. Quarterback Ty Watkins accounted for 41 yards running and passing and Gavin Morris capped a 63-yard drive with a 1-yard TD plunge to give the War Eagles a 7-3 lead with just under 5 minutes left in the third quarter.

South Forsyth’s next possession ended in a 47-yard field goal from Tyler Simpson for a 10-3 lead. Still manageable for the Red Elephants for sure.

Despite being forced to punt on their second possession, the Red Elephants looked to have the War Eagles pinned at their own 1. But Watkins connected with Joshua Nelson on a 56-yard pass and later ran for 19 yards to the Gainesville 2 to set up a 2-yard scoring run by Morris for a 17-3 lead with just 3:31 left.

Gainesville made one last push getting a 46-yard pass from Wright to Ja’Quez Sims inside the South Forsyth 10. After another penalty and a sack that injured Wright, Macere Walker connected with Naim Cheeks on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds left to cut it to 17-9 after a failed 2-point conversion. South Forsyth sealed it by recovering the onside kick.

To start the game, both offenses gambled early going for it on fourth on their opening drives. The Red Elephants were stopped on a 4th-and-1 at their own 44 but returned the favor, stopping the War Eagles at the Gainesville 34.

The teams then traded turnovers. South Forsyth fumbled a Gainesville punt with Ellis Pitts recovering at the War Eagles 39. Two plays later the Red Elephants fumbled it back to the War Eagles.

The Red Elephants again stopped War Eagles on downs on their second possession at the Gainesville 10 with 10-:23 left in the first half

Wright then took over. He had runs of 19, 10, and an electrifying 38-yarder to the War Eagles 8. But the drive stalled, which led to a 20-yard field goal from Giovanni Martinez for a 3-0 Gainesville lead with 7:02 left in the second quarter.

South Forsyth would have one last chance in the first half driving 57 yards in two minutes to the Gainesville 30. Watkins and Nelson connected on seven passes in the drive for 50 yards to set up a field goal with 2.1 seconds left.

But Simpson’s 47-yard boot was wide left leaving the Red Elephants with a 3-0 halftime lead.


SCORING SUMMARY
S. Forsyth.......0.....0....10....7 -- 17
Gainesville......0.....3.....0.....6 -- 9

Second Quarter
G -- Martinez 20 FG 3-0, 7:02

Third Quarter
S -- Morris 1 run (Simpson kick) 7-0, 4:58
S -- Simpson’s 47 FG 10-3, 0:14

Fourth Quarter
S -- Morris 1 run (Simpson kick) 17-3, 3:31
G -- Cheeks 25 pass from Walker (pass failed) 17-9, 0:14

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  • Associated Tags: High school football, Gainesville football
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