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SHS recap: Devils win classic

    It may be a long time before football fans in Bulloch County see the type of classic that was played Friday night at Womack Field.
    Statesboro beat Glynn Academy 19-16 in overtime in a game that had more twist and turns than a crazy straw.
    After an hour-and-half rain delay, three-and-a-half quarters and a second outburst from the clouds, the game came down, as many predicted, to a kick.
    The Blue Devils had fumbled the ball away on its own 14, giving Glynn a chance for the upset with 3:27 left. After three straight running plays, the Terrors set up for the game-winning kick in the driving rain. It wouldn’t be that easy.
    Highly touted Brett Bearden nailed the kick, a 23-yard attempt, but the Terrors moved prior to the snap, pushing GA back five yards. Statesboro jumped offsides on try No. 2 to put the ball back on the 23, but the third snap was a bad one, and the Terrors had to fall on it, turning the ball over on downs and forcing overtime.
    Bearden kicked a 34-yard field goal to start overtime and give GA a 16-13 lead, but that was just what the Blue Devils wanted.
    “We already had the momentum,” said Statesboro’s Deangelo Tyson. “We’d been playing great defense during the game so we felt that if we played defense first it would turn the game around.”
    As per GHSA regulations, each team begins its overtime possession from the opponent’s 15. Thus, all the Devils needed was 15 yards to remain undefeated.
    “I got to get this — I got to get it,” said Marcus White, when told in the huddle he would get the chance to score the game-winner. “We went to overtime and we said, ‘We got to buckle down, we got to get this one.’”
    Get this one they did, as White took the handoff to his right and split the gaps to score the game-winner.
    “It was a concerted effort,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington. “When things seemed to be going in disarray, we showed some poise. We played bad enough to lose the game, yet we played good enough to win it. I think tonight (was) a great exhibition of how tradition proves its worth.”
    The game started simply enough with Glynn Academy driving for a first down on three plays that ended on their own 38-yard line. It also ended with a lightning strike, forcing officials to halt the game and the send the teams back inside. It would be exactly 90 minutes later when the ball was put back and play.
    Statesboro forced a punt, and then on its third offensive play, shocked GA with a 66-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead. Blue Devil quarterback Luke Connell faked to his half back, then rolled to his left and placed a touch pass into the hands of Sherrod Natson who was already well behind the Red Terror secondary.
    The Devils forced another three-and-out, marched right back down the field, and stalled at the 5-yard line. The only problem for SHS was that kicker Matt Conner was out with a foot injury. In came freshman Caleb Brown, wearing Conner’s No. 8 jersey — confusing fans, media and public address announcer's alike — to kick a 22-yard field goal. It was good and SHS was out to a 10-0 lead.
    At that point, Statesboro looked to be in total control. Not so fast.
    Glynn’s offense used its special weapon, Bearden, well to its advantage. Most teams punt when faced with a fourth-and-seven at its opponents 33 in high school football. Not the Terrors. Bearden came on and nailed a 50-yard kick to put GA on the board that created a healthy buzz around the wet crowd.
    It was Statesboro’s turn to go three-and-out, and suddenly momentum was on the red-and-white sideline in more ways than one.
    Glynn took the ball on its own 37 and drove 63 yards in 6:43 over 12 plays with plenty of luck and moxy. The Terrors faked a 43-yard field goal attempt from the 23 with Terome Grant pulling down the snap and running for a 3-yard gain. Then faced with a third-and-goal, junior Jarre Hall took a speed sweep around left end. Hall appeared to be stopped short of the goal line, but on his second effort, spun and lost the ball. It landed in the end zone where David Bailey was waiting. Game tied 10-10.
    And all that was before halftime, at approximately 10 p.m.
    The third quarter went scoreless, even though both teams had good scoring chances.         Bearden missed a 46-yard kick wide left around the halfway mark, then the Terrors fumbled a Connell punt on its own 28 with 5:30 left. After an offsides, holding and illegal motion call against the Devils, Connell’s off-balance, third-down throw fell into the arms of GA’s Dontra Lawrence and the quarter ended the same way it began.
    Bearden put the game on his foot once again to start the fourth, booting a 51 yarder at 11:43 to give the Terrors their first lead at 13-10.
    But Statesboro’s Brown wasn’t to be outdone. The freshman kicked a 36 yarder of his own to tie the game with 7:04 left.
    The Blue Devils (2-0, 1-0) will be back at home Friday, welcoming Wayne County at 7:30 p.m. Glynn will face cross-town rival Brunswick.

    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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