The Apalachee High School football team played perhaps their best half of the season Friday night against Flowery Branch. In the end, however, that strong first-half effort wasn’t quite enough to lift the Wildcats to a victory as the Falcons rallied for a 30-20 victory at R. Harold Harrison Stadium.
AHS (1-4 overall, 0-3 in Region 8-AAAAA) jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead before Flowery Branch was able to regroup. The Falcons remain perfect in region play at 4-0 (4-2 overall).
“I was proud of the fact we fought hard,” said Wildcat coach Shane Davis. “We had a lull to start the third quarter and part of that was because of what Flowery Branch did. They had two short fields to start the second half and they ran right at us. That set for the tone for the third and fourth quarters.”
The AHS offense seemed to be clicking on all cylinders in the first half. The Wildcats outgained Flowery Branch by more than 100 yards with offensive coordinator Joel Miller’s game plan working almost to perfection.
Clint Ashe put the first points of the game on the board on a quarterback keeper. Zay Henry had a key 50-yard run to help lead the drive.
Flowery Branch’s Will Filson missed his first field goal attempt but would successfully convert a 32-yarder later in the first half to cut the lead to 7-3.
AHS added another touchdown on a 15-yard run by Eric Tanner, giving the Wildcats a 14-3 advantage which they would take into the locker room at halftime.
Tanner rushed for 120 bruising yards in the game on 23 carries while teammate Henry added 90 yards on 11 rushes.
The visiting Falcons seemed to regroup somewhat at halftime and got back into the contest on a 25-yard run by Justin Curry. Flowery Branch then took its first lead of the night when Curry added another score for a 17-14 advantage.
Curry finished the game with 177 yards on the ground, the majority of which came in the second half.
The Falcons would eventually move in front 30-14 before AHS added a 14-yard scoring run by Ashe with less than two minutes to play.
“Our kids fought and played hard,” Davis said. “The end result has been disappointing for a couple of weeks in a row. The Clarke Central game seemed a lot closer than the final score showed and that was the way we felt after the game with Flowery Branch Friday. We left some opportunities out there.”
Davis said the program is past the point of moral victories.
“We expect to win each time we play,” the AHS head coach said. “We had a great effort Friday, but we need to finish the deal and get the win. That’s what we expect each week.”