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Second half rally lifts Blue Devils to victory

Second half rally lifts Blue Devils to victory

Second half rally lifts Blue Devils to victory


GUYTON — The fifth-ranked Statesboro Blue Devils found themselves in a new position as they faced a 14-7 deficit at halftime of a vital Region 3-AAAA contest against South Effingham Friday night.

Thirty-four unanswered points later, the Devils wrapped up a 41-14 victory and now sit just one win away from a trip to the region championship game.

Daniel Murphy started the comeback with a 65-yard touchdown reception off the arm of Colin Chance (7-12, 160 yards, 2 TD). Sherrodric Rawls got Statesboro back on top with a 77-yard scoring romp, and the Devils never looked back.

“We knew that we didn’t play our best in the first half,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “The important thing for us was that we were able to get back on track so early in the second half. By doing that, we avoided putting extra pressure on ourselves late in the game.”

South Effingham (4-4, 0-2) showed that it was up for a fight during the first two quarters.

The Blue Devils took the opening kickoff and drove 78 yards on 11 plays — capped by Rawls’ 3-yard run — to take an early lead, but the Mustang defense locked down for the rest of the half.

South Effingham quarterback Tyler Pullum (21-28, 190 yards) connected on just about everything early on. Answering the Devils’ long opening drive, Pullum march his offense down the field and converted on three third downs before the first quarter ran out. On the first play of the second period, Pullum found Jake Elliot on the right sideline for a 6-yard equalizing touchdown.

The Mustangs were driving again late in the half before Wesley Budget stepped in front of a Pullum throw. Unable to take advantage of the turnover, Statesboro fumbled it right back.

“We didn’t play all that badly early on,” Pennington said. “But we had costly turnovers. Eliminating those was a big part of our second half.”

Pullum made good on a second chance, hitting Sam Vallenoy with a 33-yard strike to push the Mustangs in front.

Statesboro nearly tied the game before halftime, but Chance threw the second of his two interceptions into the hands of Kyle Zeigler in the South Effingham end zone.

After the Devils regained the lead, the wheels came off for a pressing Mustang offense. On the first play from scrimmage following Rawls’ long touchdown run, Jackson Ware intercepted Pullum at the Mustang 30. The Devils drove in close before Anthony Curtis ran in from 10 yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Trailing 28-14 midway through the final quarter, South Effingham drove to midfield, but punted the ball back to the Devils when faced with a fourth-and-6. The Devils drove the nail into the Mustangs’ coffin as Chance capped off an 83-yard drive with a 26-yard touchdown toss to Landon Haralson.

The Devil defense forced its third turnover of the night with a sack and fumble recovery, allowing Diquan Brunson to finish off the scoring inside of the final minute.

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

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