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Burke blanks Statesboro Blue Devils
SHS topped at Erk Russell Classic
082314 SHS FOOTBALL 03 web
Burke County's Donqual Young picks off a pass from Statesboro High quarterback Austin Kleinlein intended for receiver Demetriuis Davis during the second quarter Saturday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Three keys to Burke's victory over Statesboro...
A couple of fortuitous bounces on punts played a big role in boosting Burke to a win and keeping Statesboro from gaining momentum. Late in the second quarter Burke punter Keenan Parker retreated to his own 5 yard line to pick up an errant snap, but was able to get off a kick that travelled to midfield. In the third quarter, the Bears muffed a punt at their own 10, but managed to fall on the ball to keep possession.

Statesboro easily had the numbers advantage on the sidelines, but was limited to just six offensive linemen. A veteran Burke defensive line was able to control the trenches against the underclassman-filled SHS front, keeping the Devils from establishing a running game.

The best way to keep any team from scoring is to deprive it of the football. By converting third downs and sustaining drives, the Bears dominated time of possession. At the end of the night, Statesboro ran just 38 plays to Burke’s 59.

    Burke County's Caleb Roberson had some big shoes to fill in replacing Burke’s former All-Region quarterback Donquell Green. Roberson responded in a big way, totaling 191 yards of offense and throwing for both of the Bears’ touchdowns.

Box Score
BCHS    0    6    0    6 — 12
SHS    0    0    0    0 — 0

Second Quarter
BCHS_Scott 27 pass from Roberson (kick failed). 3:47
Fourth Quarter
BCHS_Scott 7 pass from Roberson (kick failed). 7:31

    BCHS    SHS
First downs    13    5
Total Yards    275    87
Rushes-yards    37-165    28-73
Passing    110    14
Comp-Att-Int    6-17-0    3-10-2
Turnovers    0    4
Penalties-Yards    6-45    3-25

RUSHING_BCHS, Roberson 14-81. SHS, M. Williams 13-45
PASSING_BCHS, Roberson 6-17-0-110. SHS, Kleinlein 3-10-2-14
RECEIVING_BCHS, Scott 3-42. SHS, Osborne 2-9

    A huge venue and a showcase stage created a great atmosphere for Statesboro’s season opener, but a 12-0 loss to Burke County went a long way in dampening the Blue Devils’ moods Saturday night in the 3rd annual Erk Russell Classic at Paulson Stadium.
    The Bears (1-0) forced four turnovers from Statesboro (0-1), cashing in short fields for points, walking away with a win that looked a bit one-sided at times.
    “We didn’t play our best, but Burke County had a lot to do with that,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “We knew that we had to play a clean ballgame. Whether you’re talking about turnovers or missed opportunities, there were times where we just didn’t play a clean game.”
    The Bears figured to have questions in the wake of the graduation of three-year starting quarterback Donquell Green, but Caleb Roberson hardly missed a beat in his first start under center.
    Roberson went 6-of-17 passing for 110 yards and a pair of touchdown tosses. Sticking with Burke’s spread attack, Roberson also racked up 81 yards on the ground to lead all Bears.
    Roberson’s output single-handedly outpaced the Devils, who gained just 87 total yards on the night.
    “The only way to slow down a fast-paced offense is to hang on to the ball when you have it and move the chains. We didn’t do that.”
    Burke County finally cracked the scoreboard late in the second quarter thanks in large part to a Blue Devil blunder.
    Sophomore quarterback Austin Kleinlein dropped back to pass, but was blindsided. The ball shot backwards and the Bears recovered on the SHS 30.
    The Devil defense nearly held tough, but a third down pass from Roberson found Kevin Scott, who turned and raced 27 yards for a touchdown.
    Scott was the only player from either team to record points on the night. With the Bears driving to put the game away in the fourth quarter, Scott again found room in the Statesboro secondary to haul in a 7 yard strike.
    On the few occasions where the Devils’ offense threatened, turnovers ended the momentum.
    Mahlon Williams coughed up the ball at the end of a long first quarter run and Kleinlein saw two of his passes bounce off intended receivers and into the hands of Burke defenders.
    “Some of tonight’s struggles had to do with our youth,” Pennington said. “Some of it had to do with our coaching. Now, we have to go find a way to get better.”

Coffee 27, North Oconee 14

    The Erk Russell Classic kicked off Saturday afternoon as Coffee and North Oconee preceded the Devils’ game. Coffee dominated throughout the evening, gliding to a 27-14 win.
    The Trojans will host Statesboro in Region 3-AAAAA action on Oct. 3
    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.