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Close call at SHS

Close call at SHS

Close call at SHS

Quan Daniels finds a seam and takes ...


    For nearly three quarters, what was supposed to be a celebratory homecoming crowd was nothing but nervous energy.
    South Effingham and Statesboro were scoreless for the first 34:22 of play, but a pair of late touchdowns gave the Blue Devils their fourth consecutive victory and sent the home crowd happy as Statesboro held off a comeback attempt by the Mustangs for a 13-6 victory Friday night at Womack Field.
    Yards were tough to come by throughout the game as the Devils (7-1, 2-0 Region 3-AAAA) and Mustangs (4-4, 0-2) were held to 315 and 199 yards, respectively — both below their season averages.
    “I think that you saw two good teams that prepared all week for what we both knew was going to be a tough game,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “Both defenses were able to execute and make things tough all night.”
    Both teams had early chances, but were unable to finish off drives.
    South Effingham rode the legs of North Carolina State-bound Josh Mercer (17 carries, 77 yards) into SHS territory on its first drive. The Mustangs took a shot downfield, but Jacob Schofill stepped in front of the Brandon James pass and intercepted to end the threat.
    The Devils responded with a drive into South Effingham territory, but coughed up the ball on an attempted third-down conversion.
    The teams entered halftime at a 0-0 stalemate that continued late into the third quarter.
    Colin Chance (6-for-10, 79 yards) rolled out on third-and-long from the SEHS 26 and found Landon Haralson at the Mustangs’ 3 yard line. Two plays later, Quan Daniels (15 carries, 114 yards, 2 TD) carried it in from a yard out for a 6-0 lead.
    Where the Devils’ star running back finally got the scoring going, Statesboro’s defense stifled Mercer all night. The speedy Mustang running back was limited to 77 yards on 17 attempts.
    “Our seniors have been dealing with him since middle school,”  Pennington said. “There’s no doubt that he’s a very talented runner, but we stuck to our assignments and executed well defensively to limit him.”
    Still nursing its 6-0 lead in the fourth quarter, Statesboro again turned to Daniels.
    On 3rd-and-2 from the Mustang 46, Daniels bounced around the left end, paused as several defenders ran by, then cut back to his right and won a foot race to the end zone.
    Jordan Aubrey’s kick stretched the lead to 13-0.
    “We got a couple of big plays on third down to help us tonight,”  Pennington said. “We’ll take it, but we also need to be more consistent with the smaller plays that just pick up a first down.”
    Not giving up the fight, James broke off a pair of long runs to get the Mustangs into the SHS red zone. On third-and-goal from the Devils’ 9, James found Joshua Edenfield in the end zone, but the ensuing kick was blocked to keep South Effingham at a 13-6 deficit.
    George Hill missed short on a 38-yard field goal with 2:05 to play, which gave the Mustangs a final chance.
    James picked up another first down with his legs, but South Effingham quickly found itself in trouble. Faced with fourth-and-13, James was in trouble almost immediately after the snap and Xavier Mobley picked off a desperation pass to seal the win for the Devils.
    Statesboro has a chance to clinch its subregion next Friday as it travels to Jesup to take on Wayne County. A win will assure the Devils of a trip to the state playoffs and a shot at a third consecutive region title. A loss would put SHS in jeopardy of having to win a Nov. 9 region play-in game to advance to the state tournament.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.
 
   

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