Statesboro junior Mahlon Williams finally had his breakout performance for the Blue Devils. Williams ran for 111 yards and scored a touchdown while also subbing in at quarterback to create a wrinkle for the Blue Devils offense.
RHHS 0 7 6 0 — 13
SHS 7 7 0 0 — 14
SHS_ Osborne 28 pass from Kleinlein (Miller kick) 7:56
SHS_Williams 1 run (Miller kick) 4:50
RH_Harris 45 run (Seale kick) 3:44
RH_Harris 2 run (kick failed) 2:46
First downs 15 0
Total Yards 298 184
Rushes-yards 48-261 38-147
Passing 37 37
Comp-Att-Int 3-7-0 2-5-0
Turnovers 3 0
Penalties-Yards 9-85 7-50
RUSHING_RH, Harris 20-139. SHS, Williams 19-111
PASSING_RH, Bryant-Long 3-7-0-37. SHS, Kleinlein 2-5-0-37
RECEIVING_RH, Polite 2-17. SHS, Osborne 2-37
Three keys to Statesboro's victory over Richmond Hill...
TOUGH ENOUGH: Statesboro has certainly taken a hit to its ego this season. For years, the Devils have run roughshod over plenty of their current region rivals and those schools have done a great job of returning the favor so far. The Devils could have easily broken in the waning seconds, but they sucked up their pride and showed a glimpse of the heights they’re trying to build back to.
HANG ON TO THE ROCK: On the rare occasions where the Devils have been able to move the ball, they’ve often shot themselves in the foot. On Friday, Statesboro won the turnover battle 3-0 and saw the benefits that can be had.
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES: All of Statesboro’s first five opponents ran a variation of the spread. Richmond Hill created a whole new set of problems with its flexbone option, but the Devils did a great job of staying on their assignments and limiting big plays.
A televised Thursday night game might have been just the spark that Statesboro needed.
The Blue Devils (1-5, 1-3 Region AAAAA) scored the first 14 points of their game against Richmond Hill (2-4, 1-4) and claimed a 14-13 victory — their first of the season — Thursday at Womack Field.
The Wildcats nearly erased an early 14-0 deficit, but Jonathan Seale missed wide left on a PAT to make the score 14-13 in the third quarter.
Statesboro’s defense held on the next three drives.
Faced with 4th-and-8 at the SHS 18 with 19 seconds to play, Reggie Hunter tracked down Richmond Hill quarterback Xavier Bryant-Long for a sack to clinch the win.
“I only gave one player specific instructions on that play,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “I told (Hunter) that the quarterback was his. I guess he’s pretty coachable.”
SHS coaches looked for a good start from their team and that’s exactly what they got.
The Devils quickly moved into Wildcat territory on the opening possession of the game. Statesboro converted on a fourth down near midfield to keep the drive alive before quarterback Austin Kleinlein — forced out of last week’s game due to injury — connected with Juhwan Osborne for a 28-yard touchdown strike.
The SHS defense forced a pair of fumbles — both recovered by senior Brandon Maple — on Richmond Hill’s first two possessions and Mahlon Williams (19 carries, 111 yards) capped a 25-yard drive that started after the second Wildcat fumble with a scoring plunge from one yard out to make it 14-0.
“We showed a lot of grit,” Pennington said. “We talked about that all week. I think our team showed a lot of grit and a lot of fight to play like they did.”
Richmond Hill wasted no time getting itself back into contention.
The Wildcats needed just four plays and 1:06 of game time before Ronnie Harris (20 carries, 139 yards) burst through the middle for a 45-yard touchdown to get Richmond Hill within 14-7 at halftime.
Statesboro’s offense couldn’t get going in the second half and it seemed as though the Wildcats would pull even after Harris’ 2-yard scoring run late in the third quarter, but Seale hooked the extra point to leave the Devils clinging to a lead.
Richmond Hill stayed on the attack and threatened twice in the final quarter.
The Wildcats reached the SHS red zone with 3:22 to play, but the Devils forced Richmond Hill’s third fumble of the night and Brandon MacArthur pounced on it to end the scare.
The Devils couldn’t run out the clock and punter Ryan Miller averted disaster by corralling a high snap and managing to punt to the SHS 42 with 1:54 left in the game.
A 14-yard pass to Elisha Polite got the Wildcats inside the red zone once again, but the Devils held strong and Hunter’s sack finally allowed Statesboro to break into the win column.
“We just knew that we had to dig deep,” Maple said of the final stand. “Whatever it was going to take, we knew we had to do it.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-4908.