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Devils dominate Tattnall

REIDSVILLE — Statesboro dominated Tattnall County for almost all of Friday night’s game in Reidsville, but Friday the 13th nearly proved to be a jinx.

The Blue Devils took an early lead, but squandered three scoring opportunities with turnovers. Down 14-0, the Battle Creek Warriors pushed deep into SHS territory midway through the fourth quarter and threatened to make it a one-score game, but Jacob Schofill picked off a Nate Smith pass and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown to ice away what ended up as a  28-0 victory.

“This is four years now that we’ve played Tattnall County and it’s been four very good ballgames,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “Even in victory, we know that having to play this team made us better.”

Things couldn’t have started better for the Devils (3-0).

Anthony Curtis returned the opening kickoff to the Tattnall County (2-1) 10-yard line. Two plays later, the Devils were at the 3, but Zach Grant fumbled into the end zone here the Warriors recovered.

In what became a recurring trend, the Blue Devil defense erased any SHS mistakes. Statesboro forced the Warriors into three-and-outs on their first three possessions of the game and allowed just 146 total yards on the evening.

Along with Schofill’s game-breaking interception, Anthony Gore starred for the Devils’ defense. The senior linebacker recorded a sack, had four tackles for a loss, and kept Smith on the run throughout the night.

While the defense dominated, the Statesboro offense found its way onto the scoreboard.

Colin Chance stepped up through the pocket, scrambling 15 yards for the game’s first points late in the first quarter.

On Statesboro’s next possession, a bruising running game got the Devils to the Warriors’ doorstep before Diquan Brunson finished things off with a 3-yard run to make it 14-0.

Aside from a Chance fumble that gave Tattnall possession at the SHS 30 in the second quarter – which the Devil defense quickly turned into a four-and-out – the Warriors didn’t reach midfield until late in the third period. Statesboro immediately sacked Smith again to force a punt.

On the ensuing possession, the Devils went for the kill, but Chance was intercepted on a long ball to Joe Corless.

“We just weren’t in sync offensively,” Pennington said. “If we want to continue to win, we know that we can’t afford to turn the ball over like that.”

Tattnall’s offense finally started to move in the fourth quarter. Four consecutive runs by Desmond Mitchell got the Warriors well into SHS territory and a scramble by Smith put them in the red zone. The Devil defense dug in one final time, forcing a third-and-long the Schofill played perfectly to step in front for the interception.

“We definitely needed the defense tonight,” Pennington said. “(Tattnall) got going, but the defense made that big play when we needed it.”

Akarri Williams broke off a 47-yard run to the Tattnall 5 on the Devils’ final possession and Sherrodric Rawls finished off the scoring with a 1-yard plunge in the final minute of play.

Next week will be Statesboro’s biggest test to date. The Devils will welcome Burke County to Womack Field in what is likely to be a matchup of two top-10 teams in the Class AAAA state poll.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.