LAWRENCEVILLE -- After last Friday's 14-7 win over Brookwood to clinch the Region 8-AAAAA crown, the hangover was apparent as Grayson met Central Gwinnett.
But credit the state's No. 2-ranked Rams for digging just deep enough to take home a 22-0 win over the Black Knights in the regular-season finale at Tally Johnson Field.
In the process, Grayson captured a perfect 10-0 regular season and 8-0 region mark for the third time in four seasons and also watched its defense post another shutout the fifth of the season as the Rams finished the final five games of the season allowing just a lone touchdown to Brookwood.
On tap next for Grayson is a first-round state playoff game back at Britt-Moody Field against Collins Hill.
"After last week's game, we've been through a gauntlet starting with the Dacula game," said Grayson head coach Mickey Conn. "We've had some guys get hurt, nicked up and we just haven't been able to get the work done during the week that we need. And it showed tonight. So I think it's going to really important that our guys get focused and be ready to go to work next week.
"We cut our season up in thirds. We have the first third of our exhibition and non-region games, then our region schedule and then the playoffs. So we're done with two of those thirds and now we have this third. The old adage is we need to go 1-0. Collins Hill is our next game and we need to get ready."
Grayson actually looked sharp right out of the gate against Central as the Rams struck quickly with a three-play, 76-yard drive to take the early 7-0 lead just 50 seconds into the game.
Terrius Watson ripped off runs of 15 and 26 followed by a 35-yard sprint into the end zone by Devin Gillespie.
But the Grayson offense misfired on some other scoring opportunities to keep Central in the game.
Grayson drove deep into Central territory again early in the second quarter only to come away empty on a fourth-and-goal at the 5.
Grayson's defense set up the Rams' second TD of the game when Kasey Gaines picked off his first of two Emmanuel Westmoreland passes and returned it to the Central 25 with less than a minute left in the second quarter.
Grayson took just three plays to score as quarterback Nick Schuessler found tight end Jack Banda in the back of the end zone on a 3-yard pass with only 32 seconds remaining in the first half.
Central's best scoring chance came in the second quarter when the Black Knights went 54 yards in 13 plays and drove to the Grayson 25.
But three straight incompletions stopped the drive and turned the ball over on downs to the Rams.
In the second half, Grayson turned to Gillespie again.
Running out of tight formations and turning the game over to its offensive line, Gillespie time and again plowed through the middle of the Central defense.
For the game, Gillespie finished with 182 yards on 21 carries and the 35-yard TD.
Grayson got its lone score of the second half when the Rams went on a 12-play, 75-yard drive with Schuessler finding Jordan Germany on a 13-yard TD pass with 2:15 to go in the third quarter.
Schuessler hit on just 3 of 12 passing for 34 yards, but had a pair of TD passes to finish off long drives.
From that point, it was all about the Grayson defense preserving the shutout.
Central again threatened in the fourth quarter as the Black Knights set up on the Rams' 7 with a first-and-goal after a 73-yard catch-and-run by George Morris on a pass from Westmoreland.
Four plays netted an eventual loss of 23 yards for Central on the Black Knights' final drive of the game.