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Flowery Branch knocks off Salem

— CONYERS -- Jackson McDonald put on his own, personal show Friday in Conyers. The Flowery Branch quarterback threw three touchdown passes and ran for two other scores as the Falcons cruised to a 35-16 victory over Salem.

While Flowery Branch improved to 3-2 and 3-0 in Region 8-AAAAA, Salem dropped to 2-3 and 1-2 in league play.

It took the visiting Falcons less than two minutes to jump on top. Following a 58-yard return by Noel Padmore on the game's opening kickoff, Flowery Branch took five plays to score, going up 7-0 on a 10-yard touchdown toss from McDonald to Cameron Davis.

Salem coughed up the ball on the ensuing possession and Flowery Branch pounced on the opportunity. Richard Days fumbled on an option run, and defensive back Quinshad Jenkins recovered for Flowery Branch. McDonald scored nearly untouched from 19 yards to make it a 14-0 game.

"We let it get out of hand early with the turnovers," said Salem coach John Starr.

An 11-play drive late in the opening quarter didn't lead to any points for Salem. The Seminoles got to the Flowery Branch three-yard line, thanks in large part to a 34-yard hook up between Damian Gordon and Deshawn Dotson, but a penalty and two rushes that went for negative yards forced a field goal attempt. Robert Chambers' 31-yard try was tipped at the line and fell wide right.

"We get to the (three-yard) line, couldn't punch it in," said Starr.

Flowery Branch executed a two-minute drill to grab a 21-0 cushion at halftime. The Falcons chewed up 70 yards on the ground (nearly nine yards per carry) to get to the 10-yard line, then Davante King came down with a 10-yard touchdown catch with 17 seconds left.

Salem was held to minus-five yards on its first two drives of the second half and Flowery Branch was able to pull away.

McDonald appeared to be stopped on an early third quarter run, but the junior fought his way out of a pile and sprinted to the end zone for a 48-yard score that made it 28-0.

McDonald then lofted a 24-yard touchdown to Jamaad Stephens to push the lead out to 35-0 with less than five minutes to go in the third.

The quarterback's only mistake of the night came on a fourth quarter interception by Robert Kimble. That led to Salem's first points of the game as backup quarterback Jordan Scott connected with starting quarterback-turned-receiver Gordon for a 28-yard touchdown.

"I'm always proud of my kids, they're going to play hard," Starr said.