Clarke Central too much for Apalachee

WINDER -- Clarke Central rushed for 263 yards and mixed just enough of a passing attack as the Gladiators marched to a 35-12 win over Apalachee in Region 8-AAAAA action at R. Harold Henderson Sports Complex.

Clarke Central improved to 2-0 in the region and 2-2 overall after two losses to Marist and Central Gwinnett to start the season.

Apalachee, which lost for a third straight time after a season-opening win over Lanier, drops to 0-2 in region play and 1-3 overall.

The schedule doesn't get any easier for Apalachee as the Wildcats take on Flowery Branch next Friday.

But for Apalachee head coach Shane Davis, there is still plenty for these Wildcats to play for this season.

"We will come right on Monday and get to work," said Davis. "Clarke Central has a lot of weapons and they executed. Right now, we have a team whose confidence is wavering a little bit. But I'm more proud of our kids right now than I've been all season. We had some fight out there tonight and we didn't quit. It may look a lot worse than it was on the scoreboard and I'm not looking for moral victories, but we're going to fight and we're going to claw the rest of the way and see what happens."

Clarke Central scored on its second possession of the game as Cameron Johnson hit Denzel Maxey on a 6-yard touchdown pass to give the Gladiators a 7-0 lead with 7:30 to go in the opening quarter.

Apalachee answered right back less than two minutes later as Zay Henry got loose on a 62-yard run, but the point-after kick failed and Clarke Central led 7-6.

Clarke Central struck again on its next drive as Johnson sprinted in from 41 yards out to increase the Gladiators' advantage to 14-6 with 4:03 to go in the first quarter.

Apalachee drove to the Clarke Central 5 late in the second quarter, but two plays totaling minus-25 yards and an incomplete pass killed the scoring opportunity.

Clarke Central got a 49-yard return on the opening second-half kickoff from Rodney Willingham and the Gladiators cashed in as Jalani Payne completed a 31-yard drive with a 4-yard run to make it 21-6.

But Apalachee got an interception from Jody Mathis and turned it into points when Clint Ashe found Jermaine Smith down the left sideline for a 63-yard TD pass to cut the Clarke Central lead to 21-12 with 2:48 remaining in the third quarter.

Clarke Central came right back and got a 36-yard TD pass from Johnson to Amir Williams to push the Gladiators' advantage out to 28-12 with just 1:26 left in the third quarter.

Clarke Central put the game away with 7:39 to go in the fourth quarter when Payne scored his second TD of the night on a 19-yard run for the final 23-point margin.

Willingham led the Clarke Central rushing attack with 125 yards on 16 carries while Payne finished with 80 yards on nine carries.

Smith led the Apalachee offense with seven catches for 151 yards and one TD while Henry led the ground attack with 108 yards on 13 carries and one TD run.