AAAAA: Gainesville 49, Ware County 13

It was a record-setting and drought-ending night for Deshaun Watson and the Gainesville Red Elephants.

The junior quarterback threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores as Gainesville overwhelmed Ware County 49-13 in the Class AAAAA championship game on Friday at the Georgia Dome to claim the first state title in school history. Gainesville (12-3), one of the state’s all-time winningest programs, was making its seventh appearance in the final, the most of any team that had never won a title.

And as has been the case so often in his three years as a starter, it was Watson who made it all go. He came into the game needing 17 yards to break the state record for career passing yardage, and he got them on his third attempt with a 10-yard pass to Tray Harrison. It was part of an 8-for-8 effort on the Red Elephants’ opening drive that was capped by a 17-yard pass to Caleb Hayman for a 7-0 lead less than six minutes into the game.

For the game, Watson was 27-of-36 passing for 317 yards and had 13 carries for 85 yards rushing, increasing his season totals to 1,441 yards rushing and 4,024 passing. He became the third quarterback in state history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season – behind Hutson Mason (4,560 for Lassiter in 2009) and Taylor Heinicke (4,218 for Collins Hill in 2010) – and the second to throw 50 TD passes in a season, trailing only Mason with 54 in 2009. He broke the record for career touchdown passes in the semifinals last week and will enter his senior season with 108 touchdowns and 9,363 yards.

A 4-yard run by Watson, a 38-yard fumble return by Fred Payne and a 5-yard pass to Rodney Lackey made it 28-0 with 2:33 to play in the first half. It was all but over at that point.

Payne also set up a third-quarter touchdown with a 69-yard interception return to the Ware County 2.

Xavier Tobler, the Region 3-AAAAA co-player of the year, scored both touchdowns for Ware County (13-2) on 2-yard runs.

Ware County had success on offense early and led in total yards 237-236 at halftime. Tobler and quarterback Jammar Johnson each rushed for more than 50 yards and Johnson was 11-of-13 passing for 105 yards in the first two quarters. But moving the ball against Gainesville wasn’t the problem. Stopping Gainesville was.

By the time Ware County scored its first points, on a 2-yard run by Tobler in the final minute of the first half, the Gators had given up 28 points. It was the most points allowed by the Gators all season and only the third time had scored more than 17 against them.

Ware County – 0-7-0-6 – 13

Gainesville – 14-14-14-7– 49

G – Caleb Hayman 17 pass from Deshaun Watson (Gage Turner kick)

G – Watson 4 run (Turner kick)

G – Fred Payne 38 fumble return (Turner kick)

G – Rodney Lackey 5 pass from Watson (Turner kick)

W – Xavier Tobler 2 run (Seth Starling kick)

G – Watson 1 run (Turner kick)

G – Michael Byrd 3 run (Turner kick)

G – Hayman 20 pass from Watson (Turner kick)

W – Tobler 2 run (kick failed)

66 comments Add your comment

'Phants

December 14th, 2012
11:37 pm

Congrats Big Red!! Proud of you guys!! Wish I was in G’ville to help celebrate this weekend!

'Phants

December 14th, 2012
11:38 pm

Hate to say it but first, just like the Red Elephants!

pokey

December 14th, 2012
11:57 pm

who dat say gone beat BIG RED!!!!! not ware county

Elephant Man

December 15th, 2012
12:04 am

Way to leave no doubt as to who the best team in 5A is. Proud to be a Red Elephant!

RED ELEPHANTS!!!!

December 15th, 2012
12:06 am

Congratulations to the Gainesville Red Elephants on twinning the AAAAA Georgia State Champiosnhip.
GO BIG RED!!!!

itsonlywrite

December 15th, 2012
12:13 am

GREAT JOB BIG RED!!! Dont wanna brag or boast but uh… I knew Ware hadnt seen an offense like Gainesville. But now they have and can get ready for next year!!!!

#ELEPHANTNATION

blu eagle

December 15th, 2012
12:22 am

Congrats G’ville, noone could have survived that passing game. Way to lay an egg ware! gville might as well stamp their name on next years championship, do not see anyone getting past them in Watson’s senior year, so let’s all skip to the next year!

uncle jimmy

December 15th, 2012
12:33 am

G’Ville just took them behind the woodshed and gave them a good ole fashioned butt whipping.

Rev Al

December 15th, 2012
12:34 am

Holy Crap….I can’t wait to go to City Park next season for the opening game and see that 2012 STATE CHAMPIONS sign on the scoreboard…..can’t wait!!!

BcS2010

December 15th, 2012
12:47 am

Congrats goes out to Gainesville… Y’all are champs!! Enjoy because repeat is hard to do!!!

HSFB Follower

December 15th, 2012
12:49 am

This team is fierce and with all those returning players they will be a force next season. Hope they go and schedule some out of state teams so they can get some national attention because HC Bruce Miller has a potent offense that will give you FITS!

Grimm

December 15th, 2012
1:11 am

Gainesville was dominant the entire playoffs. A complete team effort. Congrats to them and Ware as well for an excellent season.

blawson

December 15th, 2012
1:17 am

Played on the 59 team with Lothridge and Martin, and lost in North Ga. to Rossville 21-14, so tonight was sweet and I was there!

Grimm

December 15th, 2012
1:22 am

I just read an article that stated that Urban Meyer visited GHS this week. I would like to see what other D-1A schools are going to take a hard look at Watson now. UGA is only 40 miles from here and from what I’ve read they haven’t taken interest which makes no sense to me. I believe he has only verbally committed to Clemson. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Would like to see what anyone’s opinion is about this.

Jimmy

December 15th, 2012
1:30 am

He’s a long time Clemson lock. Read it & weep suckers, we’re out recruiting you all. Clemson is coming!

Grimm

December 15th, 2012
1:36 am

Wasn’t Robert Nkemdiche a Clemson lock at one time as well?

hobby

December 15th, 2012
1:36 am

UGA ignored AJ Johonson also. Could have used his talent against Alabama. Leading tackler in SEC.

hobby

December 15th, 2012
1:40 am

David Crisp

December 15th, 2012
1:50 am

Congrats Gainesville. Was at the game. Why oh why have the Dawgs not recruited Watson?

dano

December 15th, 2012
2:24 am

Gainesville Rules all of Ga HS football…Hey, we also beat state champs Buford this year…so that means we are the best team in all the state…period! UGA never recruits at Gville for some reason…They let Blake Sims go to Bama, AJ Johnson go to the Vola and Tyler Jones go to Notre Dame…UGA would be fools not to recruit Deshaun Watson or Fred Payne!

Kev

December 15th, 2012
2:42 am

Congrats Red Elephants from an “84 alumni who sat through the rain during the ‘83 State Championship game.

Gainesville Champs

December 15th, 2012
3:41 am

Best HS football team in Georgia, better than Buford. Good job!

jvillebil

December 15th, 2012
4:16 am

Congratulations on a great football team Gainesville. I just got home to Florida from Atlanta a few minutes ago and never thought my Gators would get beat that bad. I really thought we had a chance, but with Watson in control there wasn’t much we could do to stop him. My son and I sat on row 1 on the 50 in the mezzanine so we could get a good view. At one point in the 3rd quarter my son said, “Dad, this guy is really amazing to watch.” He reminded me of Michael Jordan in his prime when he could just take over a game and there wasn’t really much you could do about it. So once again Congratulations on your 1st championship. I do have once question both my son & I couldn’t figure out. How the heck did this team lose 3 games this season? I also would like to say I still think Tobler from Ware County is the best 2-way player in the state, he has a true heart of a champion and never gave up in the game.

Grimm

December 15th, 2012
5:17 am

@jv They lost three games by a total of only 8 points. Their defense was underrated. Very quick and mobile. I agree with you about Tobler. The kid is impressive.

Monroe's First Redcoat

December 15th, 2012
6:30 am

Congrats to the Pachydrems, but just remember that a 2-8 team is responsible for one of the “L”s….

Max Sizemore

December 15th, 2012
7:04 am

For those who wonder why UGA isn’t recruiting Watson, the answer is simple: UGA runs a pro offense, while Watson is a spread QB. Watson could certainly learn to play in Georgia’s system, but he probably wouldn’t want to. It’s not what he does best.

l longhorn nation

December 15th, 2012
7:14 am

well dont say i told you so congratsto ELEPHENTNATION from LONGHORN NATION for a great year

rmbuck1

December 15th, 2012
7:17 am

Hey Max you are right,, it’s like running the wildcat with receiver’s, definitely not a UGA type of offense.

chilidawg

December 15th, 2012
7:40 am

jvillebill, the Loganville loss was a wake up call for for this team, and the Flowery Branch loss which cost us a region championship probably helped us by putting us in an easier playoff bracket. But, boy did they get it done in the playoffs! Congratulations on a great year guys.

AP

December 15th, 2012
7:45 am

Not better than Loganville!!!!!!!!

Jokurone Red Elephant class of 65'

December 15th, 2012
8:00 am

it took us 52 years but we turn the “tide”on those “Guys” (Jimmy Guy) that was one of the most impressive offensive attacks I have ever seen from a high school team. Way to go Big Red! Congratulations!!

North Dekalb

December 15th, 2012
8:31 am

@hobby…UGA recuited A J Johnson very hard. A J made it very clear that he was not interested in UGA. Where was Mr. Johnson when those two freshmen ran for over 300 yds.

Reeze

December 15th, 2012
8:31 am

What a show …congrats to Gainesville….Don’t feel bad Ware folks ,we all know the Gator defense is solid….. Neither Tucker ,Northside MLK or the other favorites in 5A could have stopprd Watson and crew either.

GnG

December 15th, 2012
9:10 am

Thanks for respecting Buford as the standard for being the best team in the state.

JD

December 15th, 2012
9:12 am

@North Dekalb- AJ Johnson was not interested in UGA after his Junior year because Martinez (genius dc) told him he was not evenin the top 5 linebackers on their recruiting board. Grantham came in and recruited him hard his senior year but it was too late.

Joe Dirte

December 15th, 2012
9:13 am

Ware County just never made any adjustments and allowed Gainesville to throw screen passes at will and they fell for it everytime and way for Ware County to just play football like it was 1950. Lets just run the ball everytime and lets just keep being predictable. I mean throw up a damn play action once in a while. Im from Ware County and I wanna say Congrats to Gainsville for showing that you have to play football by THROWING THE BALL SOMETIMES.

rwdekalb

December 15th, 2012
9:13 am

Wow. First time seeing Watson play. Never seen a high school player live up to the hype like this young man. Even morr amazing considering he is a junior..

D-man

December 15th, 2012
9:16 am

Watson to Lackey for the TD all next year will be a beautiful thing to see!!!

JFant29

December 15th, 2012
9:27 am

Congrats to the Red Elephants well deserved. No excuses for my Gators to many turnovers, can’t win with that many turnovers, maybe there nerves or the Red Elephants got the best of them. A little disappointed that we did not bring our A game, not to take anything away from the Elephants, they did what they needed to do and we did not. GO Gators

YELLERJACKETZ1

December 15th, 2012
10:14 am

CONGRATS RED ELEPHATS FROM CALHOUN

YELLERJACKETZ1

December 15th, 2012
10:15 am

BigDawg1980

December 15th, 2012
10:18 am

Gainsville was the better team tonight…Congrats on winning state….I could not believe Gil Tyree, the GPS announcer on how biased he was towards Gainsville…He was so excited everytime Gainsville and Watson made a play…That was a joke in my opinion and very disrespectful as a commentator. Go Gators and congrats on a fine season!

G-Ville

December 15th, 2012
10:22 am

I’m Glad UGA is not recruiting Watson.. He would either be on the bench or moved to another position. They recruited Cam Newton as a tight end!! They don’t recognize talent when they see it.

Gil Tyree Sucks

December 15th, 2012
10:28 am

What a horrible job announcing

AAAAA Region

December 15th, 2012
10:32 am

Watson is special and he’s best to steer clear of UGA. I don’t believe that they would appreciate him.

WillinRoswell

December 15th, 2012
10:34 am

Congratulations to GHS and fans. I lived in Gainesville in the early 70s and have followed the team since then. I well remember the state championship game against Saint Pius at City Park in about 72 or 73. Big Red came close, but not close enough. Kind of like 09. Never been as depressed about a HS loss before or since. Looking forward to next year.

Yeah, Right...

December 15th, 2012
10:42 am

Watson in Athens? Maybe laughing at UGA as he runs over them in an Auburn uniform like the last great QB to come out of GA… I’m sure they want him to play slot receiver. Now if they would just hire Kevin Sumlin…

GB's Hamburgers

December 15th, 2012
11:22 am

Ware Co’s coach said it would be a game of old fashioned football against the spread. Well they didn’t know what hit them. Deshun looked like a seasoned NFL quarterback. He constantly looked the defense off and hit open receivers with bullets. With a great defense against other old fashion teams, Ware was carved up by the Red Elephants. Their spread rendered Ware’s great athletes useless.

hit a single

December 15th, 2012
11:33 am

I wouldn’t give a dime to GPTV because of those idiots announcing the game. What a sorry job and I didn’t have a dawg in the fight. I could hardly listen to the Larry Munson want to bes. They were pitiful. I hope GHSA will show some guts and get rid of them. I am glad Gainsville won or you may have had to bury those idiots.

itsonlywrite

December 15th, 2012
11:40 am

jvillebil Gainesville lost the first game to West Forsyth as a learning experience game. Alot of missed assignments on defense. The Loganville game was a wake up call that we cant get relaxed. Thats why Gainesville kept scoring… Not to run up the score, but to make sure we didnt lose the game again by lettin up. And the Flowery Branch game was lost to either not go into overtime(so we wouldnt risk player injuries b4 the playoffs) or for better playoff positioning. But in all those games, we were never beat by a defense b/c we still put up points. But congrats to Ware Co. on a great season.

#ELEPHANTNATION