The last region victory for the Statesboro Blue Devil football team came three years ago in overtime against Bradwell. It looked like the Blue Devils may have a chance to do the same thing Friday night against Wayne County, but after scoring in overtime to pull within one, the extra point was blocked and the Blue Devils felt the sting of another tough loss as they fell 21-20.
“I’m so proud of these kids as they keep fighting,” said Statesboro coach Jeff Kaiser. “There’s no moral victories. We’ve lost five in a row, but we are a lot better football team out there.”
Wayne County came into Womack Field ranked No. 7 in Class AAAAA and undefeated at 6-0. Statesboro had lost its last four games, but Friday night outgained Wayne County in rushing, total yards, and won the turnover battle 2-1.
The Devils just didn’t win the battle on the scoreboard.
Wayne County put together a six minute drive at the end of regulation that began on its own five yard line. The Yellow Jackets managed to drive down to the Statesboro 11, and with five seconds left they brought out kicker Presley Cain for a potential game winning 28-yard field goal. The kick was wide left, sending the game into overtime.
The Blue Devils won the toss in overtime and elected to go on defense to begin the session. Wayne County scored on their first possession on a four yard run by M.J. Fuller. Statesboro then knew they had to score at least a touchdown in order to tie the game.
The Devils were forced into a fourth and four situation from the nine yard line. Drake Horton working out of the shotgun fired a pass in the flat to Will Yawn, who fought his way into the end zone. With the extra point the only thing standing between the Blue Devils and an additional overtime, Logan Prichard came in untouched for the block and the Yellow Jacket sideline spilled onto the field in celebration.
“We just have to find a way to win one of these,” Kaiser said. “I tell the kids the same boiling water that softens a potato, hardens an egg. That boiling water is adversity and we can get soft like a potato, or hard like an egg, and I think our kids are hard and getting tougher.”
The highly touted Wayne County offense came into the game averaging over 33 points per game, while their defense allowed only 11 points per contest. Friday the Blue Devils allowed only 14 points in regulation and had Jaylin Roberson rush for an even 200 yards on the night.
The game started out with the longest touchdown run in Statesboro High School history, as Jaylin Roberson took the ball from the Blue Devils one foot line, and broke free down the far sidelines 99 yards and two feet for the touchdown, giving Statesboro a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff the Yellow Jackets Trey Chauncey fielded the ball on his own 15 yard line and took off all the way downfield before finally being tackled at the Statesboro five yard line. The defense held Wayne to a fourth and one, but Ashby Cribb snuck in from the one tying the game at 7-7.
The game remained tied through halftime. A costly turnover broke the tie in the third. Davardrion Lipsey was stripped on the second play from scrimmage, and Wayne County took over at the Statesboro 40. Two plays later quarterback Shamar Taylor scored on a 12 yard run to give the Jackets a 14-7 lead with 10:22 left in the third.
Statesboro was able to come back to tie the game later in the third. Horton connected with Roberson on a 37 yard pass down to the 10 yard line. Corey McCullough capped the drive with a 1 yard plunge on fourth and goal to tie the game at 21-21.
After the game coach Kaiser praised the student section, but couldn’t contain his frustration for the lack of attendance overall.
“That student section over there was off the chain, I’m so proud of them,” Kaiser said. “But I am some kind of disappointed in the rest of them. We live in a frontrunning society. Yeah we’ve lost five in a row, but you don’t come to the game, that’s what I call a frontrunner. Fixing that is as important as fixing our football team.”
Next up for Statesboro they travel to No. 8 ranked Ware County Friday in Waycross.