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Statesboro falls to Evans, 10-7

Last-second FG wide left

            EVANS – The Evans Knights may, after all, be for real.

            Kevin Millward hit Jonathan Nicely with 1:23 left to play on an 18-yard touchdown pass, and Evans avoided fumbling away the win to upset No. 4 Statesboro 10-7 Friday at Blanchard Stadium. The win kept Evans undefeated and in control of the top seed in Region 3-AAAA.

            In front of a raucous homecoming crowd, Evans (6-0, 5-0), took the ball from their own 14 trailing 7-3 with six minutes left in the fourth quarter and began what might be the biggest drive in the last 20 years of their program.

            With the student section chanting, “Ke-vin Mill-ward”, the senior QB went 6-for-8 to lead the Knights to Statesboro’s 18-yard line. On 2nd and 10, Millward rolled to his left, and with Jamie Malone breathing down his neck, he planted and found a streaking Nicely in the back of the end zone to give EHS the lead for good.

            The Blue Devils had two more drives thereafter, surprisingly enough after Evans decided to run the ball with 38.9 seconds left from midfield. Millward fumbled, giving the Devils (5-1, 4-1) new life. Luke Connell found Torrance Whitaker down the middle of the field for 22 yards on the ensuing drive to put the ball at the 13 of Evans. But freshman Caleb Brown’s game-tying attempt from 30 yards out went wide left. It was the third missed field goal of the night for SHS, although the only miss by Brown.

            The Devils led 7-3 at halftime and seemed to be beginning to impose their will late in the second half. But two fumbles in the fourth quarter, the second leading to the go-ahead score proved to be the difference.

            “If you start dwelling on (the turnovers) then it becomes a cancer,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington. “Turnovers are a factor, but they were not a determining factor. Evans beat us – in a very, very competitive football game. That’s the truth of the matter.”

            The Knights jumped on the board after their opening drive took them to Statesboro’s 3. Matt Dickerson kicked a 20-yard field goal to make the score 3-0.

            The lead lasted all of 11 seconds. The ensuing pooch kickoff backfired for EHS, as Patrick Jenkins caught the ball full speed at his own 30 and raced 70 yards almost untouched to put Statesboro up 7-3.

            Reminiscent of Statesboro’s 21-0 win over Lakeside, Evans dominated time-of-possession almost 2-to-1 in the first half and ran 20 more offensive plays than the Blue Devils. Once Statesboro finally got going in the second half, the two fumbles halted any momentum SHS might have built.

            “We had some good things going there in the middle of the third quarter and the fourth quarter,” Pennington said. “The truth of the matters is, when we were in their territory, we stopped ourselves.”

            Jenkins led the SHS’ rushing attack with just 57 yards while Nic Lanier had only 40. Connell was 5 of 16 passing for 88 yards.

            Jonathan Nicely caught seven balls, five on the final drive, for 110 yards. Evans’ Millward threw 28 times, completing 14 of them for 151 yards. He threw an interception to Statesboro’s Weldon Watts.

            After the game, Evans fans rushed the field in celebration of the monumental win. It was the first time the Knights had ever beaten Statesboro.

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