Photo: David McGregor Dacula's Alex Armah (21) tries to take down Walton's Tyren Jones (1) during the second quarter of the Falcons quarterfinal matchup with the Raiders.
MARIETTA -- Coming into Friday's quarterfinal football game at Walton, Dacula had faced tough games all season. And, just like many times before, the Falcons came in as underdogs.
But, after constantly battling back this year to win games, the Falcons came up just short at Walton, as the Raiders advanced to the state semifinals with a 21-13 win.
"Dacula doesn't quit," said Falcons' head coach Jared Zito. "All year, our guys have never quit. It's a tribute to our history. One loss doesn't change that."
One thing the Falcons are able to hang their heads on was the fact that they were the only team that played Walton to within 12 points and only the second team to hold Walton under 30 points this season.
Special teams and ball control were the stories early as both teams made special teams mistakes, allowing the other to score.
After a punt return for a touchdown by Walton's Tyren Jones, the Falcons recovered for the extra point as Morgan Loyd blocked it. Then, on Walton's next possession, the ball went over the punter's head with Josh Bullock recovering the ball in the end zone to get the Falcons on the scoreboard.
In the second quarter, with the Raiders up 14-7, Dacula controlled the clock for 9:04 in the quarter, coming out with a field goal and a 14-10 deficit at halftime.
"We learned early on that we don't listen to what anyone else says," Zito said. "We play good Dacula football no matter what."
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With no scoring in the third quarter, it came down to the fourth quarter and which team would make the big plays when needed.
In the end, it was two plays by Walton's Zack Blaylock that did the Falcons in. The first was Blaylock's interception inside the 5-yard line. Next, it was the 95-yard touchdown reception on third down by the son of former Atlanta Hawks' point guard Mookie Blaylock.
"You don't become a 13-0 team if you don't have some good players who make good plays," Zito said. "That's a great team there going to the semifinals."
Even with the loss, Zito said he's proud of the way his kids performed throughout the season, bouncing back from losing their longtime head coach Kevin Maloof to retirement and barely missing the playoffs in 2010.
"Our seniors set the bar high for the underclassmen," Zito said. "They now have something to aim for."