Grayson, Nkemdiche power past Dacula

Robert Nkemdiche

Robert Nkemdiche


Photo: David McGregor Dacula's Rocky Capobianco (5) gains yardage against the Grayson defense during the Falcons' loss to the Rams on Friday in Grayson.


Photo: David McGregor Grayson's Devin Gillespie (14) outruns Dacula's Sam Hurst (60) for a touchdown during the first half of the Rams win over the Falcons on Friday night.


Photo: David McGregor Grayson's Robert Mueller (33) tackles Dacula's Rocky Capobianco for a loss during the third quarter of the Rams victory over the Falcons on Friday night.

LOGANVILLE -- The No. 90 football jersey works great for Robert Nkemdiche's duty at defensive end, the position he will play for a powerhouse college in the future.

His new digs, though, make him look like a pretty slick high school running back.

The Grayson junior, now sporting a No. 1 jersey, rushed for 17- and 25-yard touchdowns late in the first half Friday night and helped the nationally ranked Rams pull away for a 34-14 victory over Dacula in a matchup of Region 8-AAAAA unbeatens.

He finished with three rushing TDs on just four attempts.

"(Nkemdiche) was unbelievable," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said. "Robert gave us the spark we needed. His (TD run) before halftime was an unbelievable run. That definitely set us up big time before the half. It was a remarkable run, especially for a guy 6-foot-4 and weighs 270 pounds to keep his balance like that."

Nkemdiche's last TD run, the 25-yarder just before halftime, sent the home crowd into a frenzy. At least the ones who weren't standing with their jaws dropped in amazement.

After making a ridiculous cut in the backfield to find a hole, Nkemdiche fought through tackle after tackle, at times dragging defenders and at others spinning away from them, on the way to the end zone.

At least three times he looked off balance, only to nimbly find his feet and accelerate toward the goal line.

"I just took that thing and kept pushing, kept my my feet moving," said Nkemdiche, who changed from No. 90 to No. 1 after the season opener.

The TD capped a second quarter that saw the Rams (6-0, 4-0) score 20 points in a 3 minute span to turn a scoreless game in their favor.

Nkemdiche completed two third-and-short situations on Grayson's first scoring drive, the second a 17-yard spring on a toss left.

The Grayson defense followed with a huge stop on the first play of the Falcons' next possession, when Jack Banda intercepted a screen pass to set up the offense.

Four plays later, Devin Gillespie scored on a 27-yard screen pass from Nick Schuessler to put the hosts ahead by two scores.

The ensuing possession put Dacula (3-3, 3-1) in a bigger halftime hole, thanks to a huge gamble by Falcons head coach Jared Zito that backfired.

With slightly more than a minute left in the first half, Zito went with a fake punt on fourth-and-6 from his own 25-yard line and the pass went incomplete. On the next play, Nkemdiche's 25-yard scamper turned a 13-point advantage into a 20-0 halftime lead.

Dacula managed just 69 first-half yards and played nearly the entire game without playmaker Marcus Cox. Cox was hit by Grayson's Shattle Fenteng in the first quarter and laid on the field for 10 minutes before he left by stretcher, then by ambulance.

A penalty-aided, 14-play drive got the Falcons within 20-7 early in the fourth quarter. It ended with a 28-yard TD pass from Brandon Goodson to Brandyn Bartlett.

But Grayson answered right back with an eight-play, 80-yard march capped by Nkemdiche's third TD run. It was set up with a 50-yard bomb from Schuessler to Callen Hightower.

Schuessler hit Corey Schaeffer for a 47-yard TD pass on the next possession, extending the lead to 34-7. The senior quarterback completed his last 10 passes, finishing 10 of 12 for 165 yards and two scores.

Goodson, who threw for 149 yards, hit Josh Bullock for a late Dacula score, but the Falcons' offense couldn't do much until late against the Rams' defense. Without Cox, the visitors managed just 80 rushing yards.

Jordan Germany led the Grayson defense with three tackles for losses.

"Practice makes perfect and we had a great week of practice," Nkemdiche said. "We kept our minds in the game and we keep getting better and better every game."