LAWRENCEVILLE -- Archer came into Friday's game looking to stay on pace in the Region 8-AAAAAA playoff race, sitting a half game behind Brookwood for the final playoff spot. Struggling Berkmar came into the game trying to lick its wounds from a 62-0 defeat against Grayson and looking for its first region win of the year.
It didn't take long for the Tigers to assert their dominance on homecoming night. Archer struck quick for two touchdowns off two turnovers in the first four minutes and kept rolling for a 42-0 win over the Patriots.
After a pair of five-yard penalties to open the game, Berkmar quarterback Jaquan Morris (10-for-27, 156 yards, 3 INT) was picked off by Brandon Weber. Four plays later, Sean Fowler (14 rushes, 74 yards, 2 TD) scampered into the end zone, and Zach Wachholz's extra point put the Tigers up 7-0.
"It was an awesome game," Fowler said. "I just want to thank God first and the line. We knew this was a big one coming into the game. We've got two big games (coming up), but we've just got to take them one at a time."
The second score for Archer (6-2, 4-2 Region 8-AAAAAA) was very similar.
John Gillis stepped in front of a pass from Morris and brought it down. After a facemask penalty was stepped off, it took Ernest Alexander (7 rushes, 49 yards, TD) one play to break a 19-yard TD for a 14-0 lead with 8:08 left in the opening quarter.
"I saw the drag coming, so I had to jump down for it," Gillis said. "(Getting a shutout win) was really important. Once we get a win like this, we get momentum to go on and take it into the playoffs."
Gabe Tiller (9-for-15, 168 yards, TD) hooked up with Will Kone (3 receptions, 82 yards, TD) a few ticks into the second quarter for a 40-yard TD and a 21-0 lead. K.J. Parmer (6 carries, 47 yards, TD) rushed in from 13 yards, and Fowler scored his second from a yard out before halftime to give the Tigers a commanding 35-0 lead at the break.
Berkmar (1-6, 0-5 Region 8-AAAAAA) tried to start a spark with an onside kick to begin the third quarter. But like most things for the Patriots, it didn't work and gave Archer the ball near midfield. The Tigers were forced to punt on their first drive of the half, but they put the final nail in the coffin on the next drive.
Archer drove the ball to inside the 5-yard line and stalled. But thanks to a roughing the kicker penalty on a field goal try, Archer got another chance to punch it in the end zone. On second and goal, Tiller snuck in from a yard out to put his team up 42-0 with 3:32 remaining in the third.
"I was proud of our kids," Archer coach Andy Dyer said. "They executed well early. We got sloppy -- I think we fumbled the ball three times tonight. I'm not pleased with that at all. But the defense played very well again, ... and we ended up with (about) five turnovers."
Berkmar coach Jonathan Sanks was disappointed with the number of miscues committed by his team.
"Just so many mistakes, so many mental errors, so many turnovers," Sanks said. "You can't win turning the ball over. You can't win with holding penalties. You can't win with first and 20. It's impossible."
"I think the issue is being locked and loaded. This is football weather. This is what we've been waiting on. ... Football to me doesn't build character, it reveals character. If you don't focus in the classroom and don't focus in your everyday life, it's impossible for you to get out here and focus."
Wins by Grayson and Brookwood kept Archer from gaining any ground Friday before the Tigers' upcoming matchups with region foes Grayson and Shiloh.