No. 1 Blessed Trinity escapes No. 8 Flowery Branch after Falcon two-point conversion fails in overtime
By: Rob Grubbs — sportal contributorFollow @sportalspace
October 12, 2018 (Flowery Branch, GA) – With the game on the line, both teams ran the exact same play Friday night. The Blessed Trinity Titans scored a touchdown in the first overtime when quarterback Jake Smith rolled out and found Ryan Davis for a toe-tapping touchdown to take the lead.
The Flowery Branch Falcons answered moments later, and after a Zarian Brawner touchdown run, Head Coach Ben Hall doubled down by going for the 2-point conversion for the win. Same rollout by quarterback Elijah Gainey as he lofted a pass to CJ Goodwin at almost the identical spot, but the ball just glanced off his fingers for a Blessed Trinity 21-20 win. Football truly is a game of inches.
It was a matchup of two unbeatens from Region 7-AAAA. The defending state champion No. 1 Titans (7-0) versus No. 8 Flowery Branch (6-1) who just dropped down into the classification this season. The Titans took the opening kickoff and embarked on a 13-play scoring drive behind the strong runs of Steele Chambers. Quarterback Smith scored on a keeper to give the Titans their first lead of the evening.
It appeared as if the Titans were going to give the Falcons a rude awakening to the toughness at the top of Region 7-AAAA.
Flowery Branch settled into the game based on solid work by their defense but on their first scoring opportunity of the game, Falcon quarterback Gainey was intercepted by Titan quarterback and free safety Davis and he took it 96-yards to expand the Titans lead to 14-0.
The Flowey Branch defense seemed to take that personally and forced two fumbles in the first half. After the second fumble was recovered by defensive back Jalin Stown, Gainey found receiver Strown for a 41-yard TD just before half time to serve notice that the Falcons we not going to wilt from falling behind early.
The second half turned into a defensive clinic, field possession type of game. Both teams exchanged punts and fought for tough yardage on every play.
The Falcons tied the game on a big third quarter drive lead by Gainey. Facing a third-and-four, Gainey executed a perfect quarterback draw and gashed the Titan defense for a 47-yard run up the middle. This was followed just a few moments later with his second touchdown pass of the evening to Strown to tie the game at 14-14.
All that set up the dramatics of the two quarterbacks in the overtime period and ultimately the one-point Blessed Trinity win. Davis had been shaken up in the third quarter and gave way to backup quarterback Payton Kennedy while getting treatment, his return was a huge shot in the arm for the Titans.
Afterwards, Blessed Trinity Head Coach Tim McFarlin talked of the failed two-point conversion and the win, “Honestly, I told the kids either way this goes, its going to grow us. Both us and Flowey Branch have been playing games where things have been settled by the second half, we both needed this type of game. There was just a lot of guts out there tonight on both sides.”
Chambers finished with 105 yards rushing for the Titans on 23 carries, but the Flowery Branch defense was the bigger story as they held the Titans to 153 total yards of offense while their offense gained 314. Gainey, who has a rocket arm and plays with the attitude of a gunslinger, finished with 16 completions on 47 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Strown, who caught both TD passes had 116 yards receiving.
Both teams still have No. 6 Marist looming in the distance on their schedule, for Blessed Trinity, that will be a rematch of the 2017 state championship and for Flowery Branch, it will be for second-place in the region.
Pat Jasinski – A 2015 graduate of Blessed Trinity, Jasinski set school records with 433 career tackles, 46 games played, 27 tackles for loss and 21 tackles in a game. On offense, he had 40 receptions for 809 yards and 11 touchdowns in his high school career, he was named the AJC AAA Defensive Player of the year. He is currently a starting outside linebacker for the University of Central Florida.
Connor Shaw – a 2010 graduate of Flowery Branch – Shaw went to play quarterback for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina. He threw for 6,074 yards at South Carolina, the fourth-highest total in school history and presided over the winningest era in Gamecocks history. He played two seasons in the NFL, one with Cleveland and one with Chicago. At Flowery ranch, his dad, Lee Shaw who is now the head coach at Rabun County.
1-This was the first ever meeting between the two schools on the football field.
2-Blessed Trinity first-year assistant coach Jermaine Phillips played four years at the University of Georgia and was a fifth round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he won a Super Bowl ring in 2003. He had a seven year NFL career and finished with 11 career interceptions.
3-Flowery Branch head Coach Ben Hall is in his second season as head coach, but he was the offensive line coach for the Falcons in 2008 when they reached the AAA state championship game and lost to Cairo.
4-Flowey Branch QB Justin Gainey has a bit of Brett Favre in him, has a big arm and loves to get the ball into his playmaker’s hand.