The difference in Southeast Bulloch and Screven County Friday night was a 6-foot-4, 190 pound junior Tyler Griffin.
Playing all over the field, Griffin made his Yellow Jacket debut with a 168 total yard, two touchdown performance as the home team defeated the Gamecocks 31-13 to open the 2020 football season.
“He’s a kid that is a freak of an athlete and it showed tonight,” SEB head coach Barrett Davis said of Griffin, who transferred from Effingham and was forced to sit out the 2019 season. “He was able to showcase his talents and he’s just one of those electrifying guys you only get once in a lifetime or once every ten years.”
Griffin racked up 115 receiving yards on just three catches, highlighted by an 86-yard screen pass from sophomore quarterback Gage DiGiovanni that went for the first touchdown of the game early in the second quarter.
Just as impressive in his debut was DiGiovanni, who was filling in for junior Khristian Clark. You wouldn’t know it was the sophomore’s first varsity action as he threw two touchdowns and had no turnovers.
“He really stepped up,” Davis said. “He’s a great kid. He didn’t get rattled and I’m very proud of him.”
In the first quarter, both team’s defensive lines set the tone.
The Gamecocks forced the Yellow Jackets to settle for a Jonah Jones 42-yard field goal. SEB’s line, led by senior captain Waylon Knight, allowed no rushing yards in the first half.
The only area in the game that Screven had the upper hand was in the punting game. The Gamecocks’ punter pinned the Yellow Jackets inside their own 25 yard line every time.
With an 18-point season opening victory, Davis said he’ll have to look at the tape to start nitpicking things his team did wrong.
“We have to get back in the film and weight room and just figure out all the little things and just get better each week,” Davis said. “Very proud of our whole team and everything they’ve done.”
There was no preseason scrimmage this season and the depth might not have been there like in year’s past, but Davis said his team was prepared.
Coming out of the locker room, Screven started to threaten the home team’s lead by using a steady four-minute drive capped with a run from Luclavion Lane.
It looked like SEB might fold. They picked up holding and delay of game penalties and their offense stalled out.
But then the Yellow Jacket defense stepped in and shut down Screven’s run game to give the ball back to DiGiovanni and the offense.
The next play senior running back Adrian Taylor took the ball to the house on a 75-yard run down the left sideline.
“They responded to a score in the second half,” Davis said. “We were up 17-0, they scored and we came right back with a long touchdown run. Really proud of our kids.”
Taylor finished the night with 131 of the team’s 223 rushing yards and junior Tradon McBride had 48 yards of his own.
Lane led the Gamecocks on the ground with 14 carries for 104 yards.
At 1-0 on the season, SEB will head to Nahunta Georgia next Friday to take on Brantley County. Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m.