St. Pius X displayed total ground control and relied on four rushing touchdowns to outlast Flowery Branch 38-28 in the nightcap game of the Corky Kell Classic presented by Atlanta & North Georgia Building Trades Council on the first Friday of the GHSA football season.
The Golden Lions ran 62 offensive plays and gained 430 yards. 398 yards of that offensive production came on the ground as Pius averaged seven yards per carry on 57 rushes.
Pius led 16-0 after a 29-yard touchdown run from Paul Quigley in the first quarter and a touchdown pass from Dennis O’Shea to RJ Brewster with 1:09 in the second quarter. Flowery Branch responded with an 11-yard run by David Renard and a 21-yard pass from Renard to Baxley O’Brien to trail 16-13 early in the third quarter.
Mason Benefield put the Golden Lions up 24-13 on a 10-yard run with 1:24 left in the third quarter but Flowery Branch scored on a 5-yard run from Jaizen Ellingham early in the fourth quarter to pull within a field goal, 24-21. The Falcons would score again – on a 13-yard pass from Renanrd to Ellingham – but St Pius put the game away with runs from Shug Bentley with 5:08 left and Benefield with 1:17 remaining to thwart the comeback.
Benefield finished with seven carries for 46 yards and two touchdowns. Bentley had seven carries for 59 yards and one touchdown. Quigley had four carries for 38 yards and a touchdown. O’Shea was 1-of-5 passing for 32 yards and one touchdown.
Renard was 16-of-29 passing for two touchdowns and one interception with five carries for 34 yards and a touchdown. Ellingham had 14 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown and three receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown. O’Brien made five receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown.