DACULA — A repeat of 2018 brought another painful finish for Dacula’s football team in the Class AAAAAA semifinals.
The top-ranked Falcons turned the ball over twice in the first quarter, fell behind two scores and never recovered in a 38-7 loss to second-ranked Harrison in a battle of unbeatens Friday night. The Hoyas (14-0) advance to face region rival Allatoona in Friday night’s state finals at Georgia State, while Dacula ends the season with a 13-1 record — a school-record for wins in a season.
It marked the second straight season the Falcons had a huge quarterfinal victory — last week they routed two-time defending state champion Lee County 56-21 — only to lose the next week in the Final Four.
Kaleb Edwards rushed 10 times for 121 yards for Dacula, which finished with three turnovers. Edwards had just two carries for four yards in the second half.
“We told (the players) and they knew from last year, the margin for error when you get to this point is so small,” Dacula head coach Clint Jenkins said. “We did some things to ourselves early that were self-inflicted. You can’t do that against a good football team. They built up. They had the momentum. When you get a football team as good as theirs, you can’t spot them anything. And we did. But I’m proud of our guys. What we accomplished this year was great.”
After falling behind 17-7 at halftime, Dacula couldn’t get its defense off the field in the second half. Harrison’s ball-control offense limited the Falcons to three second-half possessions — the last starting with 3:03 left and the game already out of hand at 38-7.
Harrison rushed 45 times for 272 yards, led by 129 yards from David Roberts and 85 yards from Jay Ziglor. Mason Babay rushed for three touchdowns, all in the second half. The Hoyas attempted just one pass in the second half, draining the clock and crushing Dacula’s hopes of a comeback.
“We felt like we just couldn’t get the ball back,” Jenkins said. “They just had some drives. We would hit them at the point of attack and they just continued to get first downs and run the clock. It gets frustrating. It’s just kind of a keep-away deal.”
After starting the game with a three-and-out on offense, Dacula watched Harrison answer with an 11-play, 57-yard drive on its first possession. Roberts’ 1-yard plunge made it 7-0 with 6:50 left in the first quarter.
Harrison’s Brandon Carter stopped Dacula’s next drive with an interception, but the Falcons’ defense held to a three-and-out. The offense responded with a drive to the Harrison 13-yard line — the big play was Kaleb Edwards’ 49-yard run — but a fumbled exchange on the handoff at the 13 was recovered by the Hoyas.
Harrison then marched 87 yards in nine plays off the miscue, going ahead 14-0 on Gavin Hall’s 1-yard quarterback sneak.
Dacula answered with its only first-half score on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Edwards’ 2-yard TD run. Gianni Araujo had a big 21-yard catch on the march.
Harrison went up 17-7 on a 35-yard Christian Lowrey field goal two seconds before halftime. The drive began at the Hoyas’ own 9-yard line with only 1:16 left.
The visitors began to pull away immediately in the second half, beginning with a long kickoff return to the Dacula 43-yard line. Six plays later, Babay’s 7-yard TD run made it 24-7 and put more pressure on Dacula.
The Falcons couldn’t score on the ensuing drive and Harrison drained the rest of the third quarter, holding the ball for 8 minutes, 49 seconds of the 12-minute third. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Babay’s 19-yard TD run made it 31-7.
Dacula’s final turnover, an interception in the end zone by Tommy Pollack, ended the next possession. Harrison turned that into an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with 3:08 left when Babay scored from 14 yards out.
Dacula quarterback Jarrett Jenkins was 11-for-22 passing for 109 yards and two interceptions. Konata Mumpfield was his top target with four catches for 37 yards. Araujo had a pair of catches for 30 yards.
“I’m really just super proud of these guys,” Jenkins said. “This one hurts, but what they’ve done for this community won’t be forgotten. To go 13-1, that’s hard to do. I’m just really proud of our guys. It’s been a heck of a ride this year.”
HARRISON 38, DACULA 7
Harrison 7 10 7 14 — 38
Dacula 0 7 0 0 — 7
Harrison: David Roberts 1 run (Christian Lowrey kick) 6:50
Harrison: Gavin Hall 1 run (Lowrey kick) 10:27
Dacula: Kaleb Edwards 8 run (Zach Gerks kick) 7:10
Harrison: Lowrey 35 FG, :02
Harrison: Mason Babay 7 run (Lowrey kick) 9:03
Harrison: Babay 19 run (Lowrey kick) 11:54
Harrison: Babay 14 run (Lowrey kick) 3:08
First downs 22 17
Rushes-yards 45-272 31-192
Passing yards 92 109
Comp-Att-INT 5-13-0 11-22-2
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 4-45 5-45
RUSHING - Harrison: Roberts 19-129; Jay Ziglor 13-85; Babay 9-58; Brandon Godfrey 1-5; Hall 2-2. Dacula: Edwards 10-121; Trenton Jones 8-43; Kyle Efford 6-20; R.J. Stafford 1-13; Team 1-(minus-2); Jenkins 4-(minus-3).
PASSING - Harrison: Hall 5-13-0, 92. Dacula: Jenkins 11-22-2, 109.
RECEIVING - Harrison: Babay 3-74; Mason Bollin 1-15; Marques Owens 1-3. Dacula: Konata Mumpfield 4-37; Gianni Araujo 2-30; Chris Scott 2-20; Efford 1-12; Blaine Jenkins 1-7; Edwards 1-3.