By Caleb Byrd
For the Forsyth County News
The game was over in the first quarter.
Maybe it was too early to call, but when Aaron McLaughlin tossed a 30-yard dime to Azari Brown to go up 21-0 just 9 minutes into the game, the Discovery Titans had no chance of resuscitation.
It was McLaughlin’s third touchdown pass of the night, and only half of his total on Friday, as he led his team to a 63-0 blowout win, advancing Denmark to the second round of the Class 7A playoffs. Denmark will travel to Collins Hill, which beat Alpharetta 42-7 Friday.
“They played well, man. We worked hard this week,” Denmark head coach Mike Palmieri said. “We had a tough one last week, but the kids really responded. They came back and played well today.”
Mclaughlin went 18-of-26 throwing for 231 yards and five touchdowns, and provided a rushing touchdown as well. Half of Denmark’s total offensive yardage came off the arm of McLaughlin.
“He’s been doing it all year,” said Palmieri of McLaughlin. “You know, he’s our leader. He makes everybody around him better. And he’s gotta play well, you know, it’s playoff time. We need our best players to play at their best, and he did tonight.”
The Danes' offense was like a wild hog digging for truffles. The tusks were the big guys up front rooting away at the Titan defensive line as Denmark amassed 469 total yards of offense. And the truffle was 63 unanswered points.
The defense didn't lack ferocity either, devouring everything Discovery threw at them with animal instinct. The Danes held the Titans to a measly 66 yards of total offense, only allowing four first downs and forcing their quarterback to throw 15 incompletions. Hardly a play went by when a Dane defender wasn’t disrupting the backfield.
The Titans managed to cross midfield only one time the entire game, and they immediately got sent back into their own territory after a delay of game penalty.
Denmark didn’t come to the playoffs to mess around.
Each of Denmark’s first three offensive drives lasted less than a minute and ended in a touchdown. And each touchdown was from Aaron McLaughlin.
On the first, Mclaughlin connected with sophomore Lake Thoman for a 6-yard score. A Titan three-and-out and three plays later, and McLaughlin found senior Azari Brown down the sideline for a 26-yard score.
Then, taking possession back late in the first quarter after another failed Titan drive, McLaughlin dropped back and found Brown again on a 30-yard bullet to the end zone. It was the quickest drive of the night: one play and 5 seconds.
After that, only two drives ended without a Denmark score. That’s an impressive 81% success rate.
Looking ahead into next week, Palmieri and the Danes remain confident and hopeful. “We just gotta take it one day at a time, man,” Palmieri concluded. “Whoever we play next week is gonna be tough, so we gotta be ready. We’re looking forward to it.”
Sophomore running back Amon Williams ran in a 6-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, his first of three on the night. The other two Williams scores came in the fourth quarter, one early and one so late that only seconds were left on the clock.
Williams garnered 100 yards on 13 carries with three touchdowns. But he wasn’t the only impressive back of the night.
Brandon Britton rushed for 119 yards on 13 carries as well, providing his team with five first downs on his legs.
Brown caught seven passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns. Teddy Davenport caught five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, which he caught over the shoulder in the corner of the end zone.
Casey Gunn caught three passes for 33 yards, and Thoman caught two passes for 13 yards and a touchdown.