LAWRENCEVILLE — With the score tied late in the fourth quarter, Archer wide receiver D.J. Moore was wide open when he dropped a short pass in front of his sideline.
“Right when that happened, I said, ‘Hey, it’s coming back. Play the next play,” Tigers head coach Andy Dyer said.
Moore made up for it and then some.
The junior wide receiver made a leaping, 31-yard catch between two defenders along the Gainesville sideline two plays later, converting a third-and-15. With the Tigers facing another third down, Moore caught another 31-yard pass just in front of the pylon and stretched it across the goal line for the game-winning touchdown in a 21-14 victory in the first round of the Class AAAAAAA football playoffs.
Both passes were thrown by Vashaun Stockmann, who also had a big 54-yard TD run in the third quarter as the Tigers advanced to a second-round game at Milton.
“We had two great throw and catches right there on the sidelines to obviously win the game so that was a huge deal,” Dyer said.
Archer’s other score came on Caleb Wooden’s blocked punt that was scooped up by teammate Wilgens Larame and returned two yards to the end zone. That play quickly turned a 6-0 halftime deficit into a 7-6 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter, boosting a Tigers team that gained only 47 first-half yards.
“We thought we had (a punt block) earlier and we didn’t run in the correct gap,” Dyer said. “When we called it, the coaches in the press box did a great job of finding the hole and we came scot-free.”
Archer had 14 plays that failed to gain or lost yardage on a sluggish offensive night, but its defense led by Jake Craven’s nine solo tackles (one for loss) and 1 1/2 sacks took up the slack. Craven shared a sack with Jose Quezada, who wore Andrew Dyer’s No. 16 jersey after Dyer found out this week he is out for the season with a broken leg.
Edwin Mangual’s punting was just as big of a factor. Gainesville started 10 of its first 11 drives at its own 20-yard line or worse.
“Tonight was one of those classic examples of we’re going to pitch and play defense,” Andy Dyer said. “I knew we were playing well enough defensively if we could keep winning the field position that we were going to be able to put a drive together.”
The first scoring drive ended up as a short one. After a 15-yard run by Chase Sellers on first down, Stockmann raced for a 54-yard TD and a 14-6 lead with 32 seconds left in the third quarter.
Gainesville tied the score on Gionni Williams’ 4-yard TD run with 3:18 left in the fourth quarter, followed by Baxter Wright’s two-point run. Wright also rushed for a first-quarter score that capped a 14-play, 90-yard drive.
Archer responded with its game-winning drive and its Stockmann-to-Moore catches, the latter of which sent the Tigers’ sideline into a frenzy and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and forced a kickoff from the 25-yard line. Javier Juarez came up big and blasted a kickoff the Gainesville 14-yard line, where the Red Elephants’ returner slipped down with 56 seconds remaining. Four straight incompletions later, Archer had the win.
The Tigers didn’t have penalty issues as badly as Gainesville, which drew 15 yellow flags for 107 yards, but they did have a first-quarter personal foul that resulted in a starting offensive lineman’s ejection for throwing a punch.
“Going into Round 2 we’ve got to play with a whole lot more discipline,” Andy Dyer said. “We’ve had a lot of really stupid penalties the last two weeks. It’s like I told the kids if we continue to do that, we’ll be done. We’ve got to play with great discipline and poise.”
ARCHER 21, GAINESVILLE 14
Gainesville 6 0 0 8 — 14
Archer 0 0 14 7 — 21
Gainesville: Baxter Wright 5 run (PAT failed) 3:41
Archer: Wilgen Larame 2 blocked punt return (Javier Juarez kick) 10:31
Archer: Vashaun Stockmann 54 run (Juarez kick) :32
Gainesville: Gionni Williams 4 run (Wright run) 3:18
Archer: D.J. Moore 31 pass from Stockmann (Juarez kick) :59
First downs 13 10
Rushes-yards 41-226 35-144
Passing yards 82 86
Comp-Att-INT 12-27-1 7-12-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 15-107 6-54
RUSHING - Gainesville: Naim Cheeks 23-133; Wright 13-79; Elias Ballard 1-8; Williams 2-7; Jonquavies Drinkard 1-5; Team 1-(minus-6). Archer: Stockmann 8-68; Schmari Campbell 3-30; Renoldo Spivey Jr. 15-25; Chase Sellers 7-21; Broderick Buck 1-1; Team 1-(minus-1).
PASSING - Gainesville: Wright 11-24-0, 78; Williams 1-3-1, 4. Archer: Stockmann 7-11-0, 86; Caleb Peevy 0-1-0, 0.
RECEIVING - Gainesville: Ballard 5-19; Lenny Chatman 3-43; Cheeks 2-6; D.J. Miller 1-8; Drinkard 1-6. Archer: Moore 3-66; Trenton Lee 3-15; Frank Osorio 1-5.