LAWRENCEVILLE - The potential of the Central Gwinnett football team has been hard to see throughout this season. Friday was a different story.
Central Gwinnett (2-6, 2-4 in Region 8-AAAAA) stifled the Patriots (3-5, 2-4) offense and running back Diante Drake was brillant running the ball, as the Black Knights hammered Berkmar 37-0.
Central got things started early as Drake took the handoff on the team's first play from scrimmage and ran it 48 yards for a touchdown.
The senior back finished with 200 yards rushing.
"Diante is a difference maker," Central head coach Ed Stokes said. "He had a great game."
Drake dominated the opening quarter, gaining 150 yards on five carries. He ended the period with a scintillating 92-yard touchdown run that gave Central a 14-0 lead.
In the second quarter Central turned up the heat defensively, holding the Patriots to 35 first-half yards.
"Our defense has gotten a lot more physical as the season has gone on," Stokes said. "They have improved more than any other unit on this team."
Central added a four-yard run by quarterback Jordan Adams thanks to a 34-yard run by D.J. Moore on a fake punt.
With a three-touchdown advantage to begin the second half, the Black Knights did not let up, maintaining their pressure on Berkmar quarterback Xaviir Briggs as he was hit repeatedly in the second half.
That pressure generated the Black Knights' first score of the second half as Central forced a fumble that was recovered at the Patriots' 1-yard line. Drake cleaned up, getting his third score of the day on a one-yard burst.
Central got its final score on a safety following a botched punt attempt that Berkmar was able to recover in its own end zone.
The Patriots looked hapless at points in the second half, amassing 111 total yards of offense, just more than half of Drake's production.
The dominating performance was a sign of the Black Knights' potential in a season that had been pretty forgettable prior to this game.
"I am real proud of how the guys closed ranks and came together when they faced adversity.... this is a sign of what we can do." Stokes said
Central Gwinnett 37, Berkmar 0
Central Gwinnett: Diante Drake 48 run (Ben Tayi kick) 9:41
Central Gwinnett: Drake 92 run (Tayi kick) :00
Central Gwinnett: Jordan Adams 4 run (Tayi kick) :33
Central Gwinnett: Drake 1 run (Tayi kick) 7:37
Central Gwinnett: Tayi 36 run (Tayi kick) 7:34
Central Gwinnett: Safety, 5:54