Dacula 29, Brunswick 21

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Unranked Falcons stun undefeated Pirates on road with big defensive stops

BRUNSWICK — Thanks to a relentless defense that made stop after stop, the Dacula Falcons stunned the undefeated Brunswick Pirates with a 29-21 win Friday in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs at Glynn County Stadium.

The unranked Falcons (8-4), a No. 2 seed from Region 8, advance to the quarterfinals for the third time in four years. They’ll host Johns Creek next week, a No. 4 seed from Region 7 that beat Evans 45-14 Friday.

The No. 4 Pirates (11-1), champions of Region 2, nearly pulled off a comeback after trailing 23-14 when they scored a touchdown with 1:10 left to pull to within 23-21, then recovered the ensuing onside kick. However, following a 5-yard false start penalty, they tossed a soft lob in the air that was intercepted by senior defensive back Nicholus Nelson, who ran 60 yards to the house to bring the score to its final margin.

It was the final in a long line of defensive stands for the Falcons.

“We just stayed focus because we knew we had them,” Nelson said. “High motor. That’s what we practice all week. ...We’ve got to stay humble, practice hard and make sure we win the next game.”

With the score tied at 14, the second half’s opening drive appeared to be a three-and-out for the Pirates, who muffed the kickoff and started the drive on their own 3. The Falcons blocked the punt on fourth-and-6 from the 7 and appeared poised to take over on the Brunswick 20. However, it was ruled that a Falcon touched the ball and the Pirates recovered to regain possession.

The Pirates then drove all the way to the 7 yard line before eventually missing a 27-yard field goal. The drive was extended when, on fourth-and-10 from the 25, the Falcons were called for pass interference. The two drives lasted 18 plays and chewed seven minutes of clock.

The Falcons took over on their on 20 and two plays into the drive, a Falcons receiver dropped a catch into the hands of Brunswick’s Naverious Williams, who returned it all the way to the Falcons 7.

The Falcons defense then caught a Brunswick runner in the backfield, who made matters worse by going backwards for a 13-yard loss. That was followed by a delay of game penalty and two incomplete passes for a turnover-on-downs.

“Credit our kids,” first-year Falcons coach Casey Vogt said. “They played their butts off and left it all on the field and that’s what football’s all about.”

The Falcons took over with 2:32 left in the third and engineered a drive that took them all the way to the 1-yard line, where Kyle Efford fumbled before he could get to the end zone. Brunswick recovered.

That would end up working in the Falcons’ favor, as they tackled the Pirates’ Chuckobe Hill in his own end zone for a safety, giving the Falcons a 16-14 lead with 11:23 left in the game.

The Falcons would fumble on the ensuing possession, but the Pirates would turn the ball over on downs with 7:21 left.

That’s when Efford took over, rushing four times for 42 yards, inlcuding a 2-yard touchdown to give them a 23-14 lead with 3:12 remaining.

Efford, a senior 3-star committed to Georgia Tech, finished with a game-high 187 yards on 21 carries, with two rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown.

“I definitely felt like it was my duty to get us through this game,” Efford said.

The Falcons responded with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ellis Sutton to Williams, who came down with the ball after a Falcons defender attempting to intercept it bobbled it into his hands.

After Nelson’s pick-six, the Pirates got the ball back and Nelson reeled in another interception to end the game.

The Falcons also got 83 rushing yards from Matthew Haber, and Festus Davies caught Efford’s 20-yard touchdown pass.

The Pirates were led by Hill’s 147 yards and two rushing touchdowns on 21 carries.

Dacula 7 7 0 15 — 29

Brunswick 0 14 0 7 — 21

D — Kyle Efford 14 run (Nick Daniel kick)

D — Festus Davies 20 pass from Efford (Daniel kick)

B — Chuckobe Hill 63 run (McClain Fineran kick)

B — Hill 14 run (Fineran kick)

D — Team safety

D — Efford 1 run (Daniel kick)

B — Narverious Williams 20 pass from Ellis Sutton (Fineran kick)

D — Nicholus Nelson 60 INT return (kick failed)

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