It may have only been one win, but Statesboro’s win over Brunswick in last Friday’s 2010 season opener settled some old scores, answered some new questions, and has set the tone for what the Blue Devils hope will be another great year.
There were plenty of reasons to view Statesboro as the underdog on the road at Brunswick.
In addition to having a game under its belt already, the Pirates boasted a high-octane offense, several athletes already committed to Division I for next season, and a pair of last-minute wins over the Devils to end the last two regular seasons.
But that’s why they play the games.
Statesboro was up to the task and wore down the Brunswick defense while holding tight every time the Pirates threatened to score.
The Devils grabbed a 21-12 lead early in the third quarter and picked off Brunswick quarterback Chris Anderson twice in the closing minutes to clinch the win.
“It’s always nice to start with a win, especially on the road,” said Statesboro coach Steve Pennington. “It’s a tough environment at Glynn County stadium. There’s always a big crowd and you know you’re going to get good competition every time.”
One of the biggest factors in the victory was the way in which Statesboro was able to physically impose its will on the Pirates.
Although they lacked a lot of size and experience, the Devil linebackers and defensive backs weren’t shy about getting up close and personal with the Brunswick receivers. They clogged up passing lanes all night, and the defensive line was able to contain Anderson, repeatedly dragging him down from behind when he tried to make a play with his feet.
“We bent a little, but overall, the defense played pretty well,” said Pennington. “When we gave up yards, it was mainly because we got ourselves out of position. I was very proud of the way we were able to dig in when it really mattered.”
Offensively, it was more of the same as the Devils repeatedly plowed into the line, gaining handfuls of yardage at a time with their punishing running attack.
Dequan Daniels and Michael Summers each racked up over 100 yards on the night and combined to score all three Statesboro touchdowns.
“I think that we got the defense tired,” said Daniels. “We just keep pounding the ball. That’s why we practice and condition so hard. We started to wear them down and then the yards started coming.”
“We were able to have success running the ball inside and outside,” said Pennington. “The biggest thing was not turning the ball over. We held on to the ball and rarely went backwards which kept us from getting ourselves into bad situations.”
The win is a big one for the Devils, but there is no time to savor the feeling as the long season has just begun. Pennington was pleased with what he saw from his young team, but is spending the week walking the thin line between harboring the Devils’ newfound confidence and getting too comfortable with early success.
“We’re happy with the win, but we still need to improve,” said Pennington. “We need to keep getting good efforts out of our players every day at practice. We’ve got another very tough team in Washington County this week, and we’ll need to be just as ready to go again.”
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.