Staff Photo: John Bohn Parkview quarterback Jack Esmonde (12) runs from Grayson Jordan Germany (27) during the second quarter of Friday's game.
Grayson vs. Parkview highlights
Highlights from Grayson's 36-0 win over Parkview on Oct. 14, 2011.
LILBURN -- Grayson found itself in a defensive battle with Parkview in the first half of Friday's game.
Then the Rams blew the game open in the third quarter.
Running back Devin Gillespie and quarterback Nick Schuessler accounted for two touchdowns each in the third period and the Rams rolled to a 36-0 win.
"Things started clicking," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said. "We went back to the wing-T a little bit more and were able to hurt them."
Grayson, the No. 2 ranked team in the state and No. 6 in the nation by USA Today, takes over sole possession of first place in Region 8-AAAAA. The Rams beat Parkview (4-3, 4-1 region) for the sixth year in a row and secured a playoff spot.
"We just have to get one game at a time," Conn said. "There's a lot of football left with three games left."
Grayson (7-0, 5-2 region) ran just 12 offensive plays in the third quarter and scored four touchdowns. One of the scores was after a fumbled kickoff return by Parkview. The other scores were aided by a stingy Grayson defense.
The Rams held Chris Carson, the county's leading runner, to just 66 yards rushing. Parkview managed just 101 yards of total offense.
"We were happy to shut him and the Parkview running game down," Grayson defensive lineman Sebastian Rice said.
Rice, a Georgia State commitment, and Jake Muller each had six tackles. Linebacker Jay Strickland made nine, while Ryan Carter, Kasey Gaines and Jordan Germany each had five. Gaines also had an interception in the second quarter.
"Defense played great tonight," Conn said. "They gave up some yards, but our defense held them when they had to."
Grayson led 7-0 at the half and Devin Gillespie scored on a 28-yard run to put the Rams up 14-0 to start the third quarter. Gillespie was the game's leading rusher with 90 yards on 10 carries
Schuessler threw a 66-yard touchdown pass to Callen Hightower to increase the lead to 22-0 after Robert Nkemdiche scored on a two-point conversion. Schuessler was 5 of 11 for 105 yards with two TDs.
Parkview fumbled the kickoff return and Wayne Gallman recovered at the Parkview 24. Schuessler threw his second TD, a 21-yard pass to Gillespie to make it 29-0.
"Once we got the ball, we had to put the foot on the gas," Schuessler said.
Grayson got the ball back on the 35 and Korey Jones scored on a 14-yard sweep to the left to put the Rams ahead 36-0 and start a running clock in the fourth quarter.
"Disaster. It was eight minutes of disaster," Parkview head coach Cecil Flowe said. "We played really good in the first half. We knew it would be tough to move it on them. They've a pretty good load of weapons. They are good, that's why they are No. 2 in the state."
Parkview only crossed midfield twice in the game, once on its first possession of the game and again to start the fourth quarter. But Marquise Motley's second sack of the game ended any kind of potential drive for the Panthers.
"We thrive off field possession," Conn said. "We were able to get that in the second half."
It was a defensive battle in the first half and a special teams play set up the only score.
Ryan Carter's 43-yard punt return to the Parkview 30 got the Rams' offense started. Once the Rams got inside the 10, the 6-foot-5, 270-pound Nkemdiche pounded the ball three straight plays before scoring on a two-yard run and 7-0 halftime lead.
But it was a different story in the third quarter as Grayson rattled off 36 unanswered points.
"I feel good about how we started the game," Flowe said. "You've got to be able to move the ball on them."