Statesboro needed one of its leaders to make a big play when it counted most, and Branden Williams was up to the challenge.
Clinging to a 34-28 lead late in last week’s second round playoff game against Griffin, the Bears were driving deep into Blue Devil category against a tiring Statesboro defense.
“Our coaches are always telling us that leaders need to step up,” said Williams. “As a senior, I felt like I was responsible for doing that. I made the call to switch to the other side of the line to see if I could make something happen.”
On a third down play from the 15, Williams jumped the snap and blew past his blocker. Griffin quarterback Tyler Hamm saw the pressure coming, but Williams reached him before he could get out of the pocket and the ensuing hit jarred the ball loose.
“We were all a little tired. I think I might have forced that fumble just to get back to the sideline,” joked Williams. “I knew the ball came loose. It took a good hop and was just laying there when I looked up, so I just jumped on it.”
The sack and fumble recovery ended the Griffin threat and helped Statesboro advance to its first quarterfinal since 2008. The Devils will face Kell Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Marietta.