MILLEN — A punishing ground attack propelled the Claxton Tigers (2-3-1, 2-0) to a 32-21 region 3-A victory over the Jenkins County Eagles (1-5, 0-2) Friday night.
Final quarter efforts including a precision passing game from Eagle sophomore quarterback Houston Bowers were not enough to earn Jenkins County their first region win of the season.
The Eagles struggled to stop the Tiger running game all night. Claxton senior Delvin Diggs put on a show as he powered past Eagle defenders for 249 yards and four touchdowns. The Tigers managed to record 20 first downs in the contest.
Early turnovers cost the Eagles offensive momentum. However, the Jenkins County defense stubbornly allowed yardage to prevent a Claxton score until the last second of the first quarter. With Claxton leading 7-0 in the second quarter, a bone crushing hit from the Tiger defense coughed up a fumble to end an Eagle drive.
The Tigers managed to score with 34 seconds left in the half when junior signal caller Tristian McCoy found senior wide receiver Mario Jones for the 17-yard touchdown pass.
On the responding kickoff return, the Tigers forced another turnover to prevent any first half Eagle miracles.
Diggs came out in the second half like a man on a mission. A 38-yard run saw the senior barreling through several Eagle defenders for his third touchdown of the night to give Claxton a 19-0 lead.
But the Eagle defense showed they weren’t down when they recovered a Tiger fumble on the Claxton 36 to set up a four-yard touchdown run by Patrick Moody to make it 19-7.
With precious seconds ticking away and the Eagles down 32-14 in the fourth, Bowers found Tim Patterson with a soaring 53-yard pass down to the Claxton 11. Moody punched through for the 11-yard touchdown run and the score was 32-21.
And it all came down to an onside kick with a little more than two minutes to play. After the ball pinballed between players, Claxton pounced to take possession and end Eagle hopes for a miracle win.
Claxton returns home to host Emanuel County Institute next week while the Eagles hit the road to take on Savannah Country Day.