DACULA - While the misty, muddy setting was forgettable, Dacula's defensive performance in what is likely to be its final home game of the season was quite memorable. The Falcons won their fourth consecutive game, whipping Berkmar 40-0 before a spirited Senior Night crowd at Barron Field, to clinch third place in Region 8-AAAAA.
"Defense is the game. I've said it my whole career," said Dacula coach Kevin Maloof, who won his 176th game. "When you play good defense you've got a chance to be in every game. Then it's up to the offense and the playmakers to make something happen."
Dacula (6-3, 5-2) didn't allow Berkmar to cross midfield until the game's penultimate play. Dacula forced Berkmar to go three-and-out on six of its 10 possessions. The Falcons sacked Berkmar quarterback Quavious Marshall five times and never allowed Berkmar's spread offense to gain momentum. Skyler Richardson, Robert Harvey, Dexter Walker, Elijah Mahaley and Sylvester Williams each came up with big plays.
"The defense played a fantastic game," Maloof said. "The reason we were able to beat Brookwood and Parkview was because of our defense. They played another great game tonight."
The defense got an assist from Berkmar's odious punting game, which led to 20 first-half points. Berkmar (1-8, 1-6) twice snapped the ball over the head of Ben Wibonele (one for a safety, one that set up a touchdown), had one snap dropped by Wibonele (which led to a touchdown), and Wibonele made a poor decision by opting for a fake punt, which set up another touchdown.
Dacula spread the wealth on offense, with five different players scoring touchdowns. Senior quarterback Andy Agudelo did a nice job running the offense on a muddy field. He completed 2 of 3 passes for 66 yards, including a 37-yard TD pass to Jake Brown. Brent Munnings caught a 29-yard pass, but was dragged down at the 2, then ran for a touchdown on the next play.
Maloof kept the lid on breakaway back junior Dexter Walker, who carried only three times, but broke one for a 42-yard touchdown. Aashad Holloway ran 11 times for 72 yards, including a 2-yard TD, and brutish fullback Taylor Roberts carried 12 times for 40 yards and a 3-yard TD.
Berkmar's Marshall completed 11 of 20 passes with one interception for 108 yards. Jordan Murry caught six passes for 81 yards. Hoderick Lowe carried 14 times for team-high 41 yards.
Maloof saw the game as an important signal that his young team (they play four sophomores on the offensive line and use 12 sophomores on a regular basis) could get emotionally ready to play a game in which they were heavily favored.
"We've been in a playoff-caliber game the last three weeks," Maloof said. "Tonight we weren't playing a playoff team, but our kids showed a lot of maturity. It was a chance to continue to improve and it was a big check of their maturity level."