By Michael Alpert
For the AJC
Deonte Davis sparked a defense that helped South Gwinnett defeat visiting Archer 42-14 and assure itself one of four state playoff spots from Region 8-AAAAAA.
Davis’ fumble recovery at Archer’s 2-yard line on the first snap of the second half and his blocked punt four minutes later helped South score on four consecutive second-half possessions and break open a 14-14 tie at halftime. Colton Nash and Anthony Beck chipped in interceptions in the win that improved South to 3-0 against Archer and left the Tigers facing daunting odds of a second-ever playoff appearance.
“We (wanted) to take care of things tonight and get done with it,” South coach John Small said of securing a playoff spot, regardless of outcomes against Brookwood and Parkview. “You’ve got to be real with your guys and let them know this is where rubber meats the road and every game is important at this point.”
Importantly for South, the victory was emotional healing from the previous week’s second consecutive shutout loss to defending state champion Grayson, 41-0.
“You’ve got to bounce back, and you can’t let one loss turn into two (straight),” Small said. “Our kids have been pretty resilient.”
With South’s defense keeping its offense on the field, the Comets unlocked a halftime tie with Jordan Ramey’s 16-yard touchdown run, his 14-yard scoring pass to L.J. Gainey and scoring runs of one and two yards by Josh Boyd and Bernard Morrison, respectively.
Morrison finished with 45 yards and two touchdowns running, as well as had 114 yards receiving and caught a 2-point conversion pass that put South up 35-14 in the final minute of the third quarter.
Both teams cashed in on first-half takeaways — first South (6-2, 5-1) for the game’s first touchdown, then Archer (6-3, 4-3) for its only lead, 14-7.
Sean Fowler led Archer with two rushing touchdowns and 111 yards. His 4-yarder tied the game 7-7 on the first play of the second quarter, and following Duane Lee’s fumble recovery, his 8-yarder put the Tigers briefly ahead.
South tied 14-14 on Morrison’s 7-yard run 5:03 before halftime.
SOUTH GWINNETT 42, ARCHER 14
Archer: 0 14 0 0 – 14
South Gwinnett: 7 7 21 7 – 42
SG — Travon Davis 1 run (Matias Yonas kick)
A — Sean Fowler 4 run (Zach Wacholz kick)
A — Fowler 8 run (Wacholz kick)
SG — Bernard Morrison 7 run (Yonas kick)
SG — Jordan Ramey 16 run (Yonas kick)
SG — L. J. Gainey 14 pass from Ramey (kick failed)
SG — Josh Boyd 1 run (Morrison pass from Ramey)
SG — Morrison 2 run (Yonas kick)