The Statesboro Blue Devils controlled their own destiny entering Friday’s regular season finale with New Hampstead. A victory would give the Blue Devils the #3 seed in the region and a spot in the state playoffs, a loss and coach Jeff Kaiser said ‘‘It could be quite a mess.’’ Fortunately the Blue Devils didn’t have to worry about the mess, as they jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead and went on for the win 30-6.
“I’m very proud of this group of kids,” Kaiser said. “We got a solid game from our defense, and were able to score when we had to. Overall a good game, and we were able to have our first winning season (5-4) since 2013 (10-2).
The Statesboro defense was once again the story of the game as they held a New Hampstead offense that was averaging over 30 points per game to a season low six points, and only 145 total yards of offense.
“Our defense really hemmed them up,” Kaiser said. “With the exception of their first drive of the second half, our defense played amazing.”
The Blue Devils wasted no time scoring as they took their opening drive downfield, and less than four minutes into the game Jaylin Roberson broke free up the middle on a 23-yard touchdown run. Cody Parker split the uprights on the extra point for a 7-0 Statesboro lead.
Special teams helped contribute to the next points as Hunter Saussy’s punt was downed at the two-yard line. Two plays later Brendan Jackson was able to make a shoestring tackle in the end zone on New Hampstead quarterback Sam Brown for a safety, and a 9-0 Statesboro lead with 2:37 left in the first quarter.
The Blue Devils were able to get great field position from there as Davardrion Lipsey took the kickoff all the way to the New Hampstead 35-yard line. Two plays later Aundrell Grace broke out of the pile and sprinted 35-yards for the touchdown. Grace then added a two-point conversion run for a 17-0 Statesboro lead.
The defense was able to keep the high scoring Phoenix offense in check the rest of the half, and contributed a turnover as well, as J.D. Kaiser recovered a New Hampstead fumble at midfield. Cody Parker added a 38-yard field goal before the half, and Statesboro took a 20-0 halftime lead.
The Phoenix took the ball to start the second half and went on a 6:00 drive, capped off by a six-yard touchdown pass from Randy Jarrell to Sam Brown. The extra point failed and the lead was trimmed to 20-6.
Pinned deep the Phoenix had trouble once again. Punting from their own end zone, Tyler Cooper’s punt was partially blocked, and the Blue Devils took over at the 18-yard line. The drive stalled, and Parker added a 34-yard field goal to extend the lead to 23-6 early in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Devil offense made the most of their only serious drive of the second half. Lipsey took off on a 31-yard run inside the New Hampstead 10-yard line. A couple plays later Roberson capped off his 100-yard rushing night with a six-yard touchdown for the final points of the game, and a 30-6 Blue Devil victory.
“I’m really proud for these seniors,” Kaiser said. “This will probably be the last time they play here at Womack Field, and I’m glad they get to get out of here with the win.’
The win gives Statesboro the number three seed, and up next they open the state playoffs Friday night on the road at Dutchtown in Hampton Georgia. Game time is scheduled for 7:30.