For the third straight week Statesboro had three or more turnovers, and once again it proved costly. Despite trailing by only seven in the fourth quarter the Blue Devils were unable to convert when they had to and dropped a 22-6 decision at West Laurens.
“For whatever reason in some areas we are not being very coachable,” said Statesboro coach Jeff Kaiser. “We work on ball security daily. We get into the heat of the battle and panic. We need to get mentally tougher.”
The Blue Devils had cut the lead to seven and were driving, early in the fourth quarter. The offense was able to get inside the Raiders eight yard line, but a sack on third and eight pushed them back to the 12. Kaiser elected to go for a 29 yard field goal, but Cody Parker’s attempt sailed wide left and the Raiders took over.
The Blue Devil defense forced a punt, but the Raiders pinned the Devils at their own 10 yard line. A holding penalty moved the ball back to the five yard line, and then Statesboro quarterback Drake Horton was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 15-6 West Laurens lead.
The Raiders then took the free kick and marched 60 yards for their final points of the game. Dorian Edmond capped off the drive with a three yard touchdown for a final score of 22-6.
“I thought once again our defense played well,” Kaiser said. “We just kept putting them on the field a lot, and in bad situations.”
After Statesboro wen three and out, the Raiders took their opening drive and got down to the Statesboro five yard line. Consecutive holding calls moved them back, and they had to settle for a 46 yard Cam Coup field goal for a 3-0 lead.
West Laurens converted on a fake punt on their next offensive series. That was followed by a 35 yard pass from R.J. Mathis to Brent Carr. Capping the scoring Mathis rolled left and found E.J. Holmes for a five yard score and a 10-0 Raider lead.
Late in the first Statesboro’s offense looked like it was finally getting on track. Jaylen Roberson (174 yards rushing) busted free on a 55 yard run to the West Laurens 19. Two plays later the Blue Devils fumbled and the Raiders took over.
In the second the Statesboro defense came through with a big play. Corey McCullough stripped the ball right out of the hands of Dorian Edmonds, and Statesboro took over at the West Laurens 12 yard line. Two plays later McCullough got rewarded as he busted free up the middle for an eight yard touchdown. The extra point failed, leaving the score 10-6.
Statesboro outgained West Laurens in total offense 243 to 228, marking the second straight game the Blue Devils have outgained their opponent in a loss. The three turnover brings the Blue Devil total to 10 turnovers in their last three losses.
“I’m proud of our kids, they are playing hard,” Kaiser said. “Our goal is to get to game 11. Our goal is still attainable. We still have some good teams left on our schedule, but I feel we are a pretty good team ourselves. The trick now is to keep our kids spirits up and not let them get dragged down by some of the poison that can come from some people in this community.”
Statesboro returns home to host Burke County next Friday at Womack Field.