FLOWERY BRANCH — Flowery Branch’s 38-7 win over Salem on Friday night served as a microcosm for the Falcons’ season thus far. They absorbed a couple of punches early, but it was far from enough to knock them off their feet.
After Salem took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter, Flowery Branch responded with quarterback Jackson McDonald accounting for three touchdowns before the half, and the Falcons cruised to the victory from there.
The Seminoles (2-3, 1-2 Region 8-AAAAA) showed flashes of offensive potency early, capitalizing on an interception with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Licash Lackey to Kanome McIntosh with 2:18 left in the first quarter. After that, it was all Flowery Branch.
The Falcons (3-2, 3-0) have now won three straight and are sitting pretty in the region after sustaining season-opening losses to Northside-Warner Robins and West Forsyth.
In putting away Salem, they showed the same offensive balance and defensive tenacity that has put them on the course that last year culminated in a region title.
McDonald, who overcame a pair of early turnovers, was the key component in Flowery Branch’s 370 yards of total offense. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 213 yards and two scores and led the team in rushing with 63 yards on 12 carries and two more touchdowns.
The senior quarterback put the Falcons on the board with a 1-yard run with 8:44 left in the second quarter, and after the Flowery Branch defense forced and recovered a fumble, followed it with 5-yard scoring run two plays later.
With 2:17 left before halftime he then found Cameron Davis for a 34-yard touchdown toss, and the Falcons were never threatened again.
“That fumble (in the first quarter), that’s (McDonald’s) first one of the year,” Griffen said. “That’s not like him, and I know he was sick about it, but kids are kids and they’re going to make mistakes. The good thing about him is he came over, responded and we fixed those issues.”
Meanwhile, the defense did its part. With the help of three sacks, the Falcons held Salem to 12 rushing yards on 35 carries and just 150 yards of total offense on the night — 52 of which came on a long pass that was tipped by a Flowery Branch defender into the hands of Salem’s Jordan Scott.
The Falcons extended their lead on a 23-yard touchdown pass from McDonald to Jemon Randolph on the final play of the third quarter and finished the scoring on Davis’ 8-yard touchdown run with 9:49 left in the game.
Salem hosts Clarke Central next week in region action.