Dacula 20 Central Gwinnett 10

By Robert Haddocks

The Dacula Falcons aren’t the biggest. They’re not the fastest. But they consistently play their brand of smart, sound football and that’s good enough.

Led by the running of CJ Mayes and an opportunistic defense, the Falcons remained undefeated with a solid 20-10 over Central Gwinnett. Mayes ran for 125 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown, and returned an interception 55 yards, one of two defensive touchdowns for the Falcons.

Dacula (6-0, 4-0 in Region 8-AAAAAA) advanced to the Elite 8 last season and Mayes thinks this team is talented enough to win a state championship. “If we keep working hard and just keep doing what we’re doing, I think we can make it all the way.”

Dacula’s defense, which has playmakers at linebacker and in the secondary, gave them a quick 13-0 lead. Azeem Cooper jumped up and snatched a pass from Central’s Eric Forrest and the linebacker ran in 48 yards for the score. On Central’s next drive, Mayes jumped a sideline route and raced 55 yards for the score. Mayes credited his coaches. “I knew (the receiver) was going to run a hitch,” said Mayes, who has three interceptions this season, “and I broke on the ball really well.”

After a Central Gwinnett field goal, Mayes was back in the end zone, taking a handoff and bouncing outside for a 65-yard jaunt. “It was supposed to go to the other side, but I saw the cutback, I hit it and didn’t look back,” said the 5-7, 175 pound Mayes. Dacula finished with 298 yards rushing.

The two returns helped give Dacula a 20-3 lead at the end of the first quarter despite being outgained in total yardage. Central Gwinnett (3-2, 2-1) possesses one of the more explosive offensive units in the county, led by Forrest and receiver Major Bellamy. The Black Knights threw for 212 yards in the first half, but the Dacula defense clamped down in the second half, allowing just 37 yards on 4 of 16 passing. Lawson Cook and Jakob Brashear harassed Forrest through the night and Jacque Evangelister and Kelan Fraise along with Mayes locked down Central’s receivers. Dacula is allowing 10 points per game this season.

The Falcons are off next week and then travel to Brookwood in a pivotal region game.

DACULA – 20 – 0 - 0 – 0 – 20

CENTRAL – 3 – 0 – 0 – 7 – 10

D – Azeem Cooper 48 interception return (kick failed)

D – CJ Mayes 55 interception return (Antonio Yin kick)

C – Ricky Ortiz 22 FG)

D – Mayes 65 run (Yin kick)

C – Eric Forrest 1 run (Ortiz kick)