REIDSVILLE – The third time is always the charm.
Driving late in the first half, two Statesboro touchdowns were nullified by penalties. With just ten seconds on the clock and no timeouts remaining, the Blue Devils kept the offense on the field and Reid Pennington found Tavist Wilson for a 14-yard touchdown strike and the go-ahead score in Statesboro’s 24-14 victory over Tattnall County (2-1) Friday night.
“I think we were a little more determined to score a touchdown after seeing two of them get called back,” said Reid Pennington “We have a lot of faith in our kicking game, but we thought we could get the touchdown, and it really pumped us up when we got it. You should have seen Tavist’s face after the catch.”
“I saw a battle-tested team out there tonight,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington. “It took a lot of resiliency to get out of here with a win. Tattnall is a tough team, and our guys really had to fight hard.”
Armed with the lead, the Blue Devils (3-0) dominated coming out of the locker room. Statesboro was able to hold on to possession of the ball for 10:53 of the first 14 minutes of the second half.
Trai Gadson finished off a 12-play scoring drive with a 3-yard scoring run on the Devils’ first opportunity of the third quarter and -- after their next drive had eaten up six more minutes, but came up empty on a missed 43-yard field goal -- Jahill Haggray picked off a pass from Battle Creek Warrior quarterback Quaysean Davis and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown to give Statesboro a 24-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense made some more big plays tonight,” said Steve Pennington. “We gave up some big plays, but that will happen with the great athletes Tattnall has. I was glad to see us dig in and prevent them from finishing some drives that could have changed the game.”
After a Caleb Brown 27-yard field goal gave Statesboro a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter, both offenses were unable to get much going.
Four consecutive drives went three-and-out, with a 15 yard run on third-and-11 from Warrior running back Shayon Guest finally breaking the streak. It proved to be a costly conversion though, as Guest injured his leg on the run and was unable to return.
Tattnall was able to capitalize on Guest’s run to take the lead. Davis converted another third down with a pass to Kareem Washington and hit Nick Overton for a 24-yard gain to the Devils’ 2-yard line. Washington capped the drive two plays later with a 1-yard plunge for the touchdown.
That was all that the Warriors would get until after Statesboro had taken control in the second half.
Following Haggray’s interception, Tattnall scored again on a 10-yard strike from Davis to Domenic Staudmire, but the Devils ended any hope of a comeback with another time consuming drive and one final interception of Davis in the final minute.
Statesboro continues with its second of three consecutive road games next week as the Devils travel to Hinesville to take on Liberty County in a cross-region showdown.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.