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Grayson shows playoff readiness, batters Archer 48-0

Staff Photo: John Bohn -- Grayson running back Wayne Gallman (4) runs the ball to the one yard line while Archer defensive back Brandon Weber (26) makes the tackle, during the first quarter of Thursday's game.. The run set up a touchdown by Gallman.

Staff Photo: John Bohn -- Grayson running back Wayne Gallman (4) runs the ball to the one yard line while Archer defensive back Brandon Weber (26) makes the tackle, during the first quarter of Thursday's game.. The run set up a touchdown by Gallman.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn -- Archer quarterback Gabe Tiller (7) hands the ball off to running back Sean Fowler (20) while Grayson defensive lineman Marquise Motley (36) defends during the first quarter of Thursday's game.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn -- Grayson running back Robert Nkemdiche (1) rushes the ball for a gain during the first quarter of Thursday's game against Archer.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn -- Grayson running back Wayne Gallman (4) scores a touchdown as Archer defensive back Trevellous Cheek (1) defends during the first quarter of Thursday's game. Gallman's touchdown and the subsequent extra point set the game score at 14 to 0.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn -- Grayson wide receiver Korey Anderson (11) can not get his hands on a pass while Archer defensive back Brandon Weber (26) covers during the second quarter of Thursday's game.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Grayson's rout of South Gwinnett two weeks ago should have been enough of an indication of how dominating it is playing right now.

Just in case it wasn't, the No. 5 state-ranked Rams reinforced that point Thursday night with a 48-0 rout of Archer before a senior night crowd at Archer Community Stadium and a cable television audience.

Wayne Gallman scored two rushing touchdowns on offense and added one of two defensive scores as Grayson (8-1, 6-1) locked up a Class AAAAAA state playoff berth.

The Rams certainly looked playoff-ready, outgaining Archer 322-97 and holding the county's fifth-leading rusher in Archer's Sean Fowler to just 40 yards on 25 carries in posting their school-record fourth straight shutout.

"We found out early in the year that you can't (mess) around," Grayson coach Mickey Conn said. "You've got to go out there and get after it and play with desire and passion. That's what this team's doing right now, and that's the way football is supposed to be played."

Grayson played with passion from the onset Thursday as the Rams took the opening kickoff and rumbled 61 yards in eight plays and taking just 2:33 off the clock before getting on the board.

McTier finished the drive off with a 1-yard sneak, and Grayson had a 7-0 lead just 2:40 after the opening kickoff.

And that was just the beginning.

The Rams scored on their first four possessions of the half, grinding out 172 of their 212 first-half yards on the ground -- 106 combined by Gallman and Aares McCall -- with Gallman adding two more scores on the ground and Robert Nkemdiche adding an 8-yard score with three minutes left in a first quarter that ended with Grayson leading 20-0.

"That was the game plan," Gallman said of Grayson's quick start. "We've just got to commit to our assignments and make the best of it."

The Grayson defense, meanwhile, was busy stifling Archer's offense, holding the Tigers to just 36 yards and two first downs in the opening 24 minutes.

Archer's only threat came after Dylan Singleton picked off a McTier pass and returned it 31 yards to the Grayson 33 with 6:34 left in the half.

But after the Tigers picked up a first down and moved as deep as the Rams' 22, a pair of penalties moved them back to the 41.

And on third and 31, Carter corralled a batted pass at his own 24 and sprinted down the field, making several moves along the way before picking up a block inside the 10 for a 76-yard interception return for a TD with 3:21 left in the half, sending Grayson into intermission with a 34-0 lead.

"When you get behind and you've got to throw the football, those things happen," Archer coach Andy Dyer said. "When you've got to keep throwing it and throwing it, there's always a chance for an interception, and they just happen to take (two) to the house."

The Rams' defense stepped up again when Archer came out threatening in the second half with four straight completions by Tigers quarterback Gabe Tiller -- two to Chad Bird -- helping move the ball to the Grayson 44.

Following a timeout, during which defensive coordinator Robert Andrews addressed his unit in a very spirited manner, the Rams swarmed Tiller for a 2-yard loss before Gallman came up with another big play.

The Clemson-committed linebacker stepped in front of a Tiller pass at his own 43 and outraced the Archer quarterback to the end zone for a 57-yard touchdown, pushing the Grayson lead to 41-0 with 8:46 left in the third quarter.

"Coach (Andrews) said we can't let up, and it seemed like we stated to," Gallman said. "It's cold out here, but we've got to be Eskimos, like Coach said, and keep on playing."

That attitude continued even after Aares McCall's 14-yard touchdown run with 4:16 left in the quarter extended the Grayson lead to 48-0, with the only question remaining being whether the Rams' shutout streak would continue.

Archer gave it its best shot to make the answer to that question "no" by taking a punt on the Grayson 43 and moving 37 yards in 11 plays down to the Rams' 6-yard line.

But the drive stalled, and instead of settling for a short field goal attempt, Archer decided to go for the touchdown, only to be turned away by an incomplete pass with 4:14 remaining.

Still, Dyer was pleased with the way his Tigers kept fighting despite a rough night that ended their season at 6-4 -- the best in the program's brief history.

"They kept fighting," Dyer said. "My hat's off to our seniors. Some of our seniors have been here four years. It's our first graduating class, and we're going to miss them."