JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Johns Creek fell flat Friday night in their home opener and took a 47-16 loss to Jones High School from Orlando, Florida.

“We got our butts kicked,” Johns Creek head coach Matt Helmerich said. “I thought we had to play not a perfect game, but we had to play really well and execute all the things we coached during the week to have a chance to beat a team like that. I would be surprised if they don’t win a state title in Florida. They’re that good.”

Johns Creek started out strong. Led by senior linebacker Jon Ross Maye, the Gladiators forced a three-and-out on Jones’ first drive of the game. They followed that defensive stop with a 28-yard field goal by Caleb Adegboyego to take a 3-0 lead, and from there the scoring opened up for both teams.

Jones responded fast with an 80-yard touchdown run to take the lead, but the Gladiators responded on their next offensive drive with a 45-yard touchdown throw from Ben Whitlock to Yong Min Lee. Following a pair of interceptions from Whitlock, including one returned for a touchdown, Jones jumped out to a 21-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter belonged to Jones. 

The Tigers put up 20 unanswered points to go up 41-10 late in the half. A 65-yard touchdown pass from Whitlock to Dalton Pearson gave the Gladiators six more points before the break, but the score was their last in the contest.

“We didn’t respond in the first half when they broke a couple big plays,” Helmerich said. “And we just didn’t tackle very well. Before you know it, the score got away from us.”

Jones added one more touchdown, but for the most part, defense and tired legs prevailed in the second half. Turnovers and penalties prevented Johns Creek from making any sort of comeback.

“The good news is this is why we play these games early in the year,” Helmerich said. “We got exposed. We discovered our weaknesses. Now we can fix them going into region play.”

The Gladiators have a bye week before they open up region play with North Atlanta on Sept. 13. Johns Creek enters their region slate as the defending Region 7-AAAAAA champions.

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