The Statesboro Blue Devil football team has shown progress from a year ago, but Friday night’s game with Burke County was very reminiscent of the past couple of seasons. In fact, the score was nearly identical as Statesboro lost 42-27 last year, and 49-28 Friday at Womack Field.
The statistics may make the game seem a lot closer that it was. Statesboro actually won the turnover battle 2-1, the first time they have done that in their last four games. They also nearly outgained Burke County in total offense 421-414, while out gaining the Bears 348-329 on the ground. The problem was Burke County did not punt the entire game, and scored on all but two possessions.
“We have ridden our defense the first part of the season, but we got physically whipped tonight,” said Statesboro coach Jeff Kaiser. “I know our kids will come back and work hard to get better come Monday.”
The game started out fast and furious. The Bears forced Statesboro to punt and then scored on a five play 60 yard drive capped off by a 5 yard Leon McGee touchdown run to make it 7-0 Burke County with 7:10 left in the first.
Statesboro answered quickly, as Jaylin Roberson took the hand off on the Blue Devils first play from scrimmage and sprinted up the middle, outracing the defenders 80 yards for the score, tying game at 7-7
The Bears didn’t waste much time responding as they scored four plays later on a 26 yard Makail Roberson touchdown run. The extra point failed leaving the score 13-7 with 6:00 left in the first.
The turning point in the game came late in the first quarter,. Statesboro had marched down inside the Burke County 10 yard line but on the final play of the quarter Roberson coughed up the ball and Burke County recovered.
Two plays into the second quarter Bear quarterback Michael Johnson connected with Jalin Simpson for a 45 yard bomb into the endzone in what proved to be a 14 point swing and gave Burke County a 21-7 lead, as the two point conversion was good.
Sensing his defense was struggling, coach Kaiser elected to go for it on fourth and inches on Statesboro’s next possession from their own 35. Audrell Grace was stopped just shy of the marker, and Burke County took over.
The Bears would turn the short field into points, as McGee added a three yard touchdown run to give Burke County a 28-7 lead.
Statesboro answered quickly again as Davardrion Lipsey would sprint 77 yards into the end zone on Statesboro’s first play from scrimmage, as the lead was cut to 28-14 with 7:19 to go in the half.
The Bears were able to add two more scores before the half. Quarterback Juanya Dove connected with Myles Burnett on a 20 yard pass for a touchdown, and then with :29 seconds left in the half McGee added his third touchdown of the half on a one yard plunge for a 41-14 Burke County lead at the half.
The Blue Devils were able to add another touchdown early in the third quarter. Burke County fumbled the opening kickoff and Statesboro recovered at the 35 yard line. They were able to score seven plays later with Lipsey going in from six yards out to cut the lead to 41-21.
The Bears once again answered the Statesboro score with one of their own. Capping the drive McGee scored his fourth touchdown of the game. This one coming on a 2 yard run. McGee then took in the two point conversion for a 49-21 lead.
Statesboro added another score late in the game, as quarterback Drake Horton rolled out and found Andre Evans on the 20 yard touchdown pass for the final points of the night and a 49-28 final.
The Blue Devil tandem of Jaylin Roberson and Davardrion Lipsey combined for 295 yards rushing. Roberson had 16 carries for 155 yards, while Lipsey added 144 yards on 20 carries.
Statesboro falls to 2-4 overall and will open up region play next Friday at home as they host Wayne County.