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Burke stalls at Womack

SHS holds off Green, Bears

Burke stalls at Womack

Burke stalls at Womack

Statesboro safety Jacob Schofill (33)...


    The old saying goes that those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
    Friday night at Womack Field, the Statesboro Blue Devils passed their history midterm with flying colors.
    Last season, the Devils faced a top-10 Burke County squad and took a quick 14-0 lead, only to watch as the Bears roared back to a win. This time around, the Devils got the early advantage once again.
    Burke County tried its best, but a determined Statesboro team never let up as the Devils racked up a 21-7 win.
    “I looked at our guys, and I saw a group that gave a great effort for four quarters,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “We knew we had our hands full with Burke County, but our effort and execution throughout the game was very good.”
    Zach Grant ran for 134 yards for the Devils (4-0). Akarri Williams and Diquan Brunson each rushed for a touchdown and Colin Chance connected on six of his 12 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.
    The Statesboro offense secured a lead, but it was the defense that was the real difference maker.
    In last season’s loss, Burke County quarterback Donquell Green accounted for more than 300 yards of offense and was nearly unstoppable running through the pocket. Green (140 rushing yards, 203 passing yards) still put up big numbers, but much of it came in a frantic fourth quarter rally after the Bears were already well behind.
    Jacob Schofill put a bow on Statesboro’s win over Tattnall County last week with a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown. He kept up his big-play tendencies, picking off three Green passes while Tim Key added a fourth interception.
    “It was a great team effort on defense,” Schofill said. “I don’t think that (Green) ever really got comfortable with the looks we were giving him. He kept throwing it my way, so I kept making plays.”
    Green’s only huge play of the night was a 49-yard touchdown run with just less than three minutes to go to keep Burke — just barely — in the game.
    The Bears defense handed Green a short field to try to get within a touchdown, but Schofill’s third interception of the night got the party started at Womack.
    The Devil defense held tight on each of Burke’s first three possessions before Williams took an inside handoff nine yards for a touchdown midway through the second quarter.
    Another three-and-out by Green and the Bears led to a short field for the SHS offense. Chance dropped a beautiful 31-yard pass right on the front pylon of the end zone and into the arms of Joe Corless to make it 14-0.
    A missed field goal kept the Devils from taking a bigger lead into halftime, but the Statesboro defense refused to budge and didn’t allow Burke into its red zone until after Brunson’s 2-yard scoring run made it 21-0 early in the fourth quarter.
    “Tonight was all about momentum,” Pennington said. “We never allowed Burke to build up that momentum that can make them so dangerous. At the same time, we were able to get our offense moving a few times and get into a good rhythm that allowed us to score some points.”
    The win gives Statesboro bragging rights – and a likely top-5 spot in next week’s Class AAAA poll —but the Devils are still a long way from where they want to be. While Burke is in Region 3-AAAA, the Bears play in the northern sub-region and Friday’s game had no bearing on region standings or playoff eligibility.
    Statesboro faces Butler and Swainsboro before finally getting to its sub-region schedule.
    Burke County remains the favorite to win its sub-region and could meet up with Statesboro in a rematch — this time to determine the region champion — on Nov. 8 in Waynesboro.

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

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