Roswell 31, Central Gwinnett 6
The Roswell Hornets jumped to a big lead fast, then kept it in cruise control and coasted to a 31-6 win over the Central Gwinnett Knights in front of the home crowd on Friday at Ray Manus Stadium.
It was a contest between two metro Atlanta AAAAAAA schools, with the Hornets (2-0) the state’s top ranked team. The Knights (0-3), on the other hand, appear to have taken a step back from the previous two seasons in which they went 7-5. They’re now on a four-game losing streak dating back to last year’s exit in the second round of the playoffs.
The Hornets will put their designation as the state’s best team on the line next week when they host No. 3 Colquitt County, the team that ended their hopes of a 15-0 season in last year’s AAAAAA championship game with a 30-13 thumping.
Hornets coach John Ford said his team has put 2015’s ending in the rearview.
“We’re not worried about last year,” Ford said. “We’re just trying to be the very best version of this team. Colquitt will do an outstanding job, and coach (Rush) Probst will have them ready, there’s no doubt about that. But we’re gonna get better every day and just try to take (next week) as (a new) game.”
The Hornets led 21-0 after the first quarter thanks to a pair of short touchdown runs from Sheldon Evans (1 and 8 yards) and a 28-yard touchdown pass from Malik Willis to Cory Reed. Evans’ first score was set up by a 61-yard Willis option run on the game’s first play from scrimmage.
“We came out and played with great tempo, energy and focus early,” Ford said. “We lagged a little bit in the second and third quarter, but we’ll watch the film and get better.”
Central Gwinnett would adjust enough on defense to make stops on five of the next six Hornets possessions. Turner Barckhoff kicked a 37-yard field goal in between those stops in the third quarter, and Roswell got its final score in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard run from Willis to up the score 31-0.
The Hornets held the Knights scoreless on their first nine possessions before the Knights scored on a 39-yard pass from Tyrone Gould to Hunter Sims on third-and-10 with 2:30 to go, ending Roswell’s shutout bid.
The Hornets were led by Evans’ 136 rushing yards on 18 carries, while Willis added 117 yards on 11 carries. Willis was also 13-for-19 passing for 93 yards. Reed had 51 receiving yards.
Central was led by Josh Samuel’s 40 rushing yards on 16 carries.
Central Gwinnett 0 0 0 6 – 6
Roswell 21 0 3 7 – 31
R – Sheldon Evans 1 run (Turner Barckhoff kick)
R – Evans 8 run (Barckhoff kick)
R – Corey Reed 28 pass from Malik Willis (Barckhoff kick)
R – Barckhoff 37 FG
R – Willis 8 run (Barckhoff kick)
C – Tyrone Gould 39 pass from Hunter Sims (pass failed)