GAC tunes up for crucial game with easy win

NORCROSS -- Lavondre Nelson scored on Greater Atlanta Christian's second play against Hapeville Charter, breaking off a 33-yard touchdown run. He didn't touch the ball again.

It was senior night at Spartan Field, but Nelson and GAC's other upperclassmen hardly had to carry a heavy workload before a sparse crowd on a rainy Friday.

GAC, which played No. 1-ranked Buford last week, was up against a school playing just its fourth varsity game rather than one with four straight Class AA state titles. The result was predictable.

The No. 4-ranked Spartans (8-1) tuned up for next Friday's crucial Region 6-AA play-in playoff game with a 33-6 victory over the Hornets. Now things get serious again.

Despite its record and state ranking, GAC won't make the state playoffs unless it wins at Lovett.

GAC is the second-place team behind Buford in Division A, while Lovett (6-3) was third in Division B. The Lions lost to Westminster 21-2 on Friday.

If GAC beats Lovett, the Spartans will get the No. 3 seed from the region for the state playoffs behind Buford and Division B winner Blessed Trinity. GAC beat Blessed Trinity during the regular season.

But a loss would keep GAC out of the state playoffs altogether and the rotating schedule that has the game at Lovett doesn't help the Spartans.

"It was a blind draw," GAC coach Tim Cokely said. "We just have to win."

Winning was never at doubt against Hapeville Charter.

"We got to play our whole team and the JVs," Cokely said. "To me it was an ideal way to get back out there after a tough rivalry game like last week against Buford. We got to rest some people and now it is time to get back to business again."

The mismatch came about because GAC had to scramble for a game after Avondale closed at the end of the last school year. Hapeville Charter (0-4) is in just its second year and doesn't have a senior class.

The Spartans were averaging 47.1 points before the 28-0 loss to Buford and did what they could to keep the score down against Hapeville. GAC used players from both the JV and ninth-grade teams.

Freshman Cameron Watson scored on a 3-yard run late in the first quarter to cap GAC's second possession and sophomore Justis Rosser scampered in from 15 yards out late in the second quarter to make it 20-0 at the break.

Parents manned umbrellas in an attempt to keep as dry as possible during the halftime senior ceremonies, when 17 GAC players were honored along with cheerleaders and trainers.

Second-leading rusher Kyle Scales, injured in the Buford game, was on crutches, leaving inexperienced players to carry the ball with Nelson resting after his early touchdown.

Rosser, who had 72 yards on eight carries, scored his second TD on a 26-yard run late in the third quarter. Then fellow sophomore Price Roberts recovered a fumble in the end zone on a Hapeville punt attempt early in the fourth quarter.

Hapeville scored midway in the final quarter on a 20-yard pass from Darius Demps to Datraun Poole.

GAC leads the all-time series with Lovett 4-3, but has lost three straight. The teams last met in 2009.