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Devils ride big 4th quarter to win

Devils ride big 4th quarter to win

Devils ride big 4th quarter to win

    When Statesboro and Lakeside get together, nothing ever comes easy.
    The Blue Devils drove for a touchdown on their first possession of the season, but a 98 yard kick return touchdown and a safety put Statesboro in a fourth quarter hole.
    Up to the challenge, a pair of late scoring drives and some tough-as-nails defense powered Statesboro ahead at the wire to claim a 25-15 victory Friday night at Womack Field.
    “We know that there is going to be great competitive fire and spirit when these teams get together,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “We knew that we were going to have to give it our very best effort. Win or lose, when we play Lakeside, we know that we’ll be a better team for it.”
    Trailing 15-10 late in the third quarter, a 17 yard connection from Colin Chance to Diquan Brunson converted on a crucial third-and-long. As the fourth quarter began, Statesboro (1-0) drove deep into Panther (0-1) territory and Zach Grant (9 carries, 67 yards, 2 TD) gave SHS the lead with a 5 yard scoring run.
    Lakeside tried to respond, but Anthony Gore drilled LHS quarterback Hunter Banks to force a punt. Grant broke off another touchdown run with 1:36 to go and a interception by Wesley Budgett iced the victory in the final seconds.
    The night began as smoothly as Statesboro could have hoped.
    The Devils got a good return by Anthony Curtis on the opening kickoff, then marched 45 yards on eight plays, culminated by a 4 yard scoring run from Akarri Williams.
    Statesboro’s defense was also impressive in its first series of the season, limiting Lakeside to a quick three-and-out.
    But the Devils weren’t able to capitalize on a second straight possession of great field position. George Hill punted to pin down the Panthers at their own 5 before Lakeside sprung to life.
    Directing a shotgun spread look that was equally effective on the run and pass, Banks quickly led his squad down the field, clawing into SHS territory at the end of the first half. Statesboro’s defense forced a 3rd-and-long deep in its own territory and covered Lakeside’s receivers well, but a deflected pass found Jonathan Edwards in the end zone for a 17 yard strike and a 7-7 tie.
    “Lakeside adjusted well,” Pennington said. “It was a tough, back-and-forth game the whole way through.”
    The Devils quickly answered with another scoring drive, but were kept out of the end zone and settled for a 35 yard field goal off the foot of George Hill to regain a 10-7 advantage.
    The home crowd barely had time to celebrate the field goal before Stephan Houzah returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. Houzah went straight up the middle and was barely touched, easily outrunning the final few Devil defenders to the end zone.
    A botched snap kept the Lakeside lead at 13-10.
    In the third quarter, another bad snap — this time on a Statesboro punt – benefitted the Panthers. Hill watched the ball fly over his head and through the end zone for a 15-10 Lakeside advantage, but the misfortune was the wake-up call the Devils needed.
    “We had a lot of coaches working for us out on the field,” Pennington said. “We had a lot of guys step up when we got behind. They never stopped working and that’s what was necessary tonight.”
    Statesboro will go for a 2-0 start next week as the Devils host Richmond Academy.

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

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