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Photo by Brian Phillips
Photo by Brian Phillips

Three plays summed up the de facto Region 8-AAAA championship game where Clarke Central claimed a region title just one season after finishing just short of a Class AAAA state title with a 21-0 win over Flowery Branch. Clarke Central sent the opening kickoff down to the Falcons but perhaps the wind played tricks with the ball and Flowery Branch fumbled the ball to the Gladiators less than 10 seconds into the game. With first and ten from the 13, it was only a few plays for Martay Mattox and the Gladiators to find the endzone. Fullback Marquez Williams would plunge in from one yard out to give Clarke Central a 7-0 lead.
The two defenses would hold each other scoreless the rest of the half and Flowery Branch would enter the half down 7-0. The Falcons pooched the second-half kickoff to the 32 yard line of Clarke Central. After the Gladiators were stoned on first down, junior tailback Quenshaun Watson would race 68 yards for a score to double the Gladiators’ lead to 14-0 less than one minute into the second half.
The Gladiators defense, ranked 14th in Class AAAA, stood strong against a Flowery Branch offense that had averaged 39.2 points per game entering the season-finale. The Falcons drove into the redzone several times against Clarke Central, but the Gladiators stonewalled the advanced again and again. After Austin Brown drove the Falcons to the one-yard line, a fourth down play would effectively end the game as Brown floated a pass into the endzone that Herb Evans would snatch and return 100 yards for a pick-six. The interception was just the second Brown had thrown this season in over 230 passes and led to a 21-0 lead for the Gladiators.
In the fourth, Flowery Branch would advance to a first and goal once more before turning the ball over on downs, and Clarke Central would then run the clock out with a lengthy drive.
With the win, Clarke Central claimed the region title and the right to host Mays in the first round of the AAAA playoffs. Flowery Branch meanwhile will claim the No. 2 seed and will host Southwest DeKalb in the first round.