DACULA - When Dacula mounted a long scoring drive, South Gwinnett countered with a quick score of its own.
Kent Rollins threw two second-half touchdowns and the Comets held off a tough Dacula team 35-21 on Friday.
"We had to make a play. We've got kids that can make plays and they made it in crunch time," South Gwinnett head coach John Small said. "We made plays and put it away in the end. It was a hard fought battle, but it was good to see our kids fight the whole time."
South Gwinnett (5-1, 3-1 Region 8-AAAA) had six scoring drives. Three were five-play drives. One was six plays and the other took seven plays.
Rollins threw for 237 yards and had two touchdown passes. Vanderbilt commitment Jonathan Krause led the team in receptions with seven for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Aaron Wimberly rushed for 109 yards and running mate Trevon Walker threw a touchdown pass and rushed for another one.
"They are such a well balanced football team," Dacula head coach Kevin Maloof said. "It makes it hard to defend them."
The Falcons (2-3, 1-2) tied the game 14-14 on a Jake Brown touchdown catch to start the third quarter. Rollins and South's explosive offense countered with touchdown passes to Krause and Stephen Adegoke and never looked back.
"They kept punching us right in the mouth," Rollins said. "We had to come out and fight back. Just like a boxing match. When you get hit, you've got to fight back."
Dacula came back with a 14-play, 67-yard drive. The Falcons converted two fourth downs. Darien Lane had a big 31-yard gain to put the ball on the 10. The senior scored on a seven-yard run on fourth down to make it 28-21.
South threatened to go up two scores again after Wimberly's 32-yard run to put the ball on the 12. But the drive ended three plays later when Rollins was intercepted on a screen pass by defensive lineman Robert Harvey. The senior also had seven tackles, while Skyler Richardson added nine, Elijah Mahaley had seven and Brad Curry had six stops.
Dacula had the ball with 5:40 left in the game and in need of a long scoring drive to tie the game, but the South defense forced a three-and-out. On fourth down, Dexter Walker tried to throw a pass instead of punt and the pass was incomplete, giving South the ball at the 19.
The Comets put the game away with a one-yard touchdown run by Wynton Cannady with 2:28 left in the game.
"We've got to play games like that. It was good to see our kids respond when they responded," Small said. "Dacula has got a great football team. They battled hard and we knew they would. We knew they were going to be sound in everything they did. They got us on a couple of things and we were out of position on some plays. We've got to learn to stop drives."
Chris Sledge and Justin Smith led South's defense with 10 tackles each, while Kardae Matchett had nine and Chaz Anderson had eight.
Dacula took the game's opening drive 64 yards on 12 plays. Walker picked up a big first down when he lined up as the punter and out raced the South defense for a 28-yard gain. The Falcons pounded the ball with Taylor Roberts to the one and Rocky Capobianco scored to go up 7-0.
Capobianco rushed for 38 yards, while Roberts had 61 yards.
The Falcons couldn't capitalize on a South fumble and the Comets got the ball back to tie the game. Rollins found Adegoke (3-89) for a 27-yard gain and then Walker threw a 39-yard halfback touchdown pass to Krause to tie the game.
The Comets took the lead when Rollins connected with Adegoke for a 24-yard pass and then Walker scored on a two-yard run to go up 14-7.
Dacula's Sylvester Williams intercepted Rollins with less than a minute to play at the 45. The Falcons reached the nine, but Chase Loyd's 31-yard field goal was no good.
"Not scoring points before the half really hurt us," Maloof said. "Because then we got the ball and scored to start the third quarter."
Lane took the second half kickoff 33 yards and after a 15-yard face mask Dacula had the ball at South's 42. Capobianco threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Brown on third down to tie the game 14-14. Brown led Dacula receivers with four catches for 75 yards.
South used a 31-yard pass to Krause, a 32-yard run by Wimberly and then an 18-yard touchdown pass to Krause to regain the lead 21-14.
"Letting them drive 80 yards on three or four plays also hurt," Maloof said.