Central Gwinnett's Eman Westmoreland (10)
LILBURN -- Eman Westmoreland had 259 yards passing and the running backs combined for 187 yards rushing as Central Gwinnett handled Berkmar 51-24 Friday.
The Black Knights jumped out to an early 28-0 lead, before allowing the score to get within 31-17 at the end of the third quarter. The gap closed due to four turnovers by the Black Knights, although the Patriots only garnered 10 points off of the Black Knight miscues.
"Our offense had a terrible night holding onto the ball," said Central head coach Todd Wofford. "They scored a majority of their points off our turnovers.
"If we held onto the ball, we wouldn't be talking about the defense giving up 24 points. Our defense played lights out and the score isn't indicative of how well they played."
However, a 20-point fourth quarter spelled the difference for Central.
The Black Knights (3-0 overall, 1-0 region) got their first score, taking advantage of a fumbled snap on a Berkmar punt. Justin Brownlee took a reverse 44 yards, weaving his way through the defense for the touchdown.
However, as Central was driving inside Berkmar territory, the Patriots caused a fumble, recovering it on the 9-yard line.
On its next possession, a turnover again halted a Central drive as Rashad Hall intercepted Westmoreland, taking it back 40 yards down to the Central 28-yard line. However, the Patriots were unable to do anything with the gift, falling short on fourth down.
Central then took the ball and ensured there wouldn't be a third-straight turnover as Westmoreland had two completions for 16 yards, before finding Chris Shelling for 49-yard strike. The score put the Knights up 14-0.
The Black Knights then turned the tables on Berkmar, as Trey Johnson intercepted a Jaquan Morris pass off a tip, taking it 27 yards for the touchdown.
"Trey has hands like bricks," Wofford said. "He had a great night on defense."
Westmoreland put the Black Knights up by four touchdowns when he found Adam Riley for 41 yards down the sideline.
But, the Patriots (1-3, 0-2) wouldn't go away as they scored on their final drive of the first half, going 55 yards in seven plays. Morris was the hero on the drive for Berkmar. On third down, he found Kenyuan Riddle for 18 yards before finding Dorren Miller wide open for a 24-yard touchdown pass. That score moved the Patriots to within 28-7 before halftime.
Central made it down to the Berkmar 9-yard line on the first drive of the second half, but was shut down and settled for a 26-yard field goal from Samir Ramic.
Berkmar responded with a scoring drive of its own, led by a 55-yard completion from Morris to Miller. Three plays later, Morris found Malik Price on an end-zone fade for the touchdown.
After recovering another Central fumble, Berkmar got to work right away. However, a sack and a false start moved the Patriots back, forcing Emmanuel Ouolusamya to kick a 36-yard field goal, making the score 31-17.
From there, it was all Central as it scored the next 20 points, including two touchdown runs by freshman running back Nigel Adams, effectively putting the game away. "Nigel provided a big spark for us in the second half," Wofford said. "That's big for a freshman."
Westmoreland finished the game 19-for-28 for 259 yards and three touchdowns, while Shelling had six catches for 104 yards. Riley also contributed three catches for 63 yards and Adams had 60 yards rushing.
For Berkmar, Morris was 17-for-40 for 204 yards, while Miller had 111 yards on eight receptions.