London Daniels

London Daniels, sophomore, runs past a Decatur defender during Gainesville's district opener Friday night at Leopard Stadium.

With under two seconds to play in the first half, Decatur’s Preston Escobar navigated through the defense on his way to the end zone.

The junior’s touchdown punctuated a rough first half Friday night for the Gainesville Leopards, who went on to lose 63-0 to Decatur at Leopard Stadium.

Gainesville (1-5 overall, 0-1 District 4-4A-2) had no answers for the Eagles’ rushing attack.

Decatur (3-3, 1-0) led 42-0 at halftime as the Eagles dominated on the road.

Gainesville had its opportunities to score. Early in the second quarter, the Leopards reached the Decatur 26-yard line. They went backward from there, eventually facing fourth down and 17. It resulted in an incomplete pass and turnover on downs.

On their next drive, Gainesville made it to the Eagles’ 21. Again, an incomplete pass to the end zone resulted in a turnover on downs, and the opportunity was gone.

The Leopards had to take their chances on fourth downs, because Decatur had already sprinted ahead. Gainesville fumbled on the third play of the game, and Decatur recovered at the 19-yard line. The Eagles took the lead three plays later.

Gainesville had to punt on its second drive after not picking up a first down. The Eagles moved the ball downfield efficiently with multiple chunk plays, including 20 yards on a rare pass, before extending their lead to 14-0.

Decatur scored on every first-half possession, including when the Eagles got the ball with 1.3 seconds until halftime.

Escobar threw two touchdown passes to go with two rushing scores. Senior Kamerin Ferguson and sophomore Wyatt Vinzant each rushed for two touchdowns, while senior Caden Thomas rushed for one. Vinzant and junior Hunter Smith each caught a touchdown pass.

Decatur finished with 113 passing yards and 418 rushing yards, led by Ferguson’s 162.

Gainesville rushed for 209 yards, led by senior Jayce Morgan’s 99.

The Leopards were plagued by penalties. Gainesville finished with 10 penalties for a net loss of 72 yards. Many of these were false starts and delays of game. The Leopards also turned the ball over three times while not forcing any Decatur turnovers.

The loss puts Gainesville behind the pace for a playoff spot, but there are still plenty of opportunities to get back into the conversation, including two more home district games.

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