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End of the line for Statesboro

Griffin eliminates Blue Devils

End of the line for Statesboro

End of the line for Statesboro

Statesboro running back Zach Grant cu...


    GRIFFIN — Nothing much went right for Statesboro and its football season came to a screeching halt as Griffin stormed past the Blue Devils for a 42-7 win Friday night in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
    The Bears (12-0) entered the matchup averaging 44.1 points per game and allowing just 8.2. It was business as usual for Griffin, which outgained Statesboro 453-176 and hardly had to break a sweat over the final two quarters after building a 28-0 halftime lead.
    “We knew that Griffin was a good team just from watching the tape,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “Once we got out on the field, we saw just how good they really are. Griffin always has talented teams, but this was something else.”
    Griffin set the tone early as Statesboro (10-2) received the opening kick, but went three-and-out. The Bears took the ensuing punt and raced down the field on two long runs by Bears quarterback Jacquez Parks (377 total yards) and a long completion to Keyston Fuller.
    Statesboro forced Griffin into a 4th-and-12 from the 38, but the Bears’ offense stayed on the field. Trey Willis broke loose down the right sideline and hauled in a jump ball from Parks to put the Bears on top.
    Big plays doomed the Devils on Griffin’s second drive as well.
    The Devils went three plays and out again, but appeared to have the Bears buried in a 3rd-and-34 situation deep in their own territory. Parks got half of the yardage on a scramble before rolling out on fourth down and finding Willis for a 32 yard completion and a first down.
    “I thought we played hard, but Griffin was able to make the big plays,” Pennington said. “They’ve got a Division I quarterback and probably a couple of Division I receivers. It’s tough to try and stop so much talent.”
    Later in the drive, Devantae Freeman took a jet sweep on 3rd-and-short, beating SHS around the right side for an 18 yard touchdown run. Griffin missed a two-point conversion, keeping the game at 13-0.
    Statesboro finally moved the chains for the first time midway through the second quarter on a 15 yard run by Anthony Curtis. A 35 yard strike from Colin Chance to Juhwan Osborn got the Devils to midfield and two Griffin penalties pushed Statesboro closer to the end zone, but the Bear defense turned SHS over on downs.
    Griffin hit the gas and put the game away early with two touchdowns in the final 1:34 of the first half. Freeman added another touchdown run – this time from 2 yards out. A quick three-and-out by Statesboro gave the Bears one more chance in the second quarter and Griffin made them pay. Parks hit on 5-of-6 passes and found Jordan Colbert at the goal line from 15 yards out to make it 28-0 at the half.
    Statesboro’s defense managed to force a Griffin punt on the first possession of the second half. The Devils marched inside the Griffin 20, but a fourth down pass from Chance bounced off the hands of Zach Grant. The Bears responded with a long touchdown drive — capped off by Malik Miller’s 10 yard touchdown run — and any hope of a comeback went out the window.
    “We pat Griffin on the back”, Pennington said. “The better team won tonight. But I’m also very proud of our guys. Things didn’t end the way we wanted them to, but we played as hard as we could for four quarters. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
    Griffin added a final touchdown as Freeman blacked a George Hill punt and Colbert recovered in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.
    With a running clock counting down its season, Statesboro finally found the end zone on a 35 yard pass from Chance to Joe Corless.
    Griffin now advances to the state quarterfinals. Next week, the Bears will take on top-ranked Sandy Creek.

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

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