Photo: Karl L. Moore Archer receiver Will Kone (11) catches a long pass behind Dacula's A. C. Collins (10) and Daryl Parkinson (23) during Friday night's game at Dacula.
DACULA -- Archer knows what it's like to lose close games. The Tigers now know what it's like to be on the other side of the scoreboard as they held off Dacula 17-14 on Friday night.
After losing games to Parkview and Brookwood the last two weeks by a combined three points, Archer head coach Andy Dyer was pleased with the victory.
"We're still a young program and you have to learn to win these games," Dyer said. "After disappointment the last two weeks, it was nice to be on the other side of it."
The win didn't come with much ease, however.
After jumping out to a 17-0 lead, Archer (3-2 overall, 1-2 region) seemed to be in control of things. Until it had to punt out of its own end zone.
Waiting for the punt on the other end was Dacula's Marcus Cox, who took the ball 55 yards to the end zone to give the Falcons life.
Archer was forced to punt again on its next possession and the Falcons got to work quickly. A three-yard rush on first down set up an 82-yard yard touchdown pass from Brandon Goodson to Cox, bringing the Falcons to within 17-14 with 8:13 to go in the game.
"We were in the exact same position the last two games," Dyer said. "We have to learn how to hang onto a lead and put the game away."
The Tigers again had trouble moving the ball on their next possession, punting three straight times.
Starting on the 15-yard line, Dacula (0-5, 0-3) slowly moved down the field. A pair of first down runs by Cox moved the ball to the 44-yard line.
But, offensive holding moved the Falcons back and into a hole.
A 19-yard completion to Cox brought the Falcons to within three yards of another first down, but that's where the drive stalled. A two-yard run, encroachment and another two-yard run set up fourth down, where an incomplete pass turned the ball over on downs.
"It's a tough loss," Dacula head coach Jared Zito said. "One thing I know for sure is that our kids are fighting hard. They're putting in enough effort; we're just missing some of the little things."
Archer's Sean Fowler busted up the middle on the next play for 33 yards, sealing the game for the Tigers.
Fowler, who finished the game with 136 yards rushing, including a rushing and receiving touchdown, had the game of his life as he played for the injured Ernest Alexander.
For Fowler, he felt like it was a game that was meant to be, considering it was against a team and players he knew all too well.
"I grew up in the Dacula program and a lot of those guys are my former teammates," he said. "You don't think about it much during the game, but before I was nervous. Those were guys I know and love."
Archer took it to Dacula early, scoring on its first possession as quarterback Gabe Tiller completed three passes for 36 yards, with the last being a 4-yard completion to Fowler in the end zone.
Dacula tried to respond by driving the ball downfield, but the Falcons missed a 35-yard field goal to give the ball back to the Tigers.
And, they responded with a nine-play, 80-yard drive, which culminated in a 3-yard rushing score by Fowler to put the Tigers up 14-0 with 28 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Zach Wachholz added a 42-yard field goal on the first drive of the second half to put the Tigers up 17-0.
Tiller finished the game 10-for-18 for 128 yards, while Will Kone led all receivers with three catches for 45 yards.
For Dacula, Goodson finished 8 of 18 for 178 yards. Cox finished the game with 256 total yards, including 112 each on the ground and receiving, and 32 yards passing. Zentavias Cobb also had 76 yards on three catches.