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Devils done in
Statesboro starts strong, fades late
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Statesboro High running back Mahlon Willliams holds his head in his hands on the bench after fumbling for the second time in the second half against South Effingham. Williams score the first two touchdowns in the game and was practically unstoppable in the first quarter. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Coming off a bye week, the Statesboro Blue Devils had plenty to go over for the first region matchup of the season against South Effingham County Friday night at Womack Field.

What the Blue Devils (0-3, 0-1 region) didn't plan for was being without the services of starting quarterback Xavier Hollmon, who was suspended from Friday's action in a 35-21 loss to the Mustangs.

Blue Devils head coach Steve Pennington did not comment on Hollmon's status.

Despite missing the presence of their starting quarterback, Mahlon Williams and Statesboro's defensive front wouldn't let the Blue Devils go down without a fight.

Williams gashed the Mustangs' (4-0, 2-0 region) defense early in the first quarter, rushing for 90 yards on the team's first possession. Williams would have over 150 yards in the first half alone.

The Blue Devils senior put SHS in the lead for the first time this season, scoring on a 31-yard touchdown run.

Lighting would strike twice for the Blue Devils as Williams again would break free for a big score, this time on a 67-yard run to put Statesboro up 14-0 with 3:56 left in the first quarter.

"We went into the game and we were going to give the rock to the 'The Rock,' " Pennington said of Williams' rushing attack early. "We felt we good get some movement from our offensive line and we had a good plan of what we could do with our power game. It worked perfectly early on."

Pennington said he gives credit to South Effingham for making adjustments towards the second half.

After going up two scores, the Mustangs scored 28-unanswered points to take control of the ballgame.

Mustang quarterback Tyler Pullum started the rally by throwing a 31-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, then running for a 6-yard touchdown with just 47 seconds left before halftime.

The third quarter would be a defensive stalemate. Defensive lineman Jarodrick Strickland was a force to be reckoned with all night. He had several big stops including a sack in the first quarter.

"The defense got off the field and we kept battling. Field position really hurt us in the second half. Defensively our backs were against the wall, but we hung tough," Pennington said.

In the fourth quarter, Pullum once again gave his team the lead on a 6-yard touchdown.

Up 21-14, South Effingham's defense took advantage of a tipped pass, returning it for a touchdown with 8:24 left to play in the fourth quarter.

However, there was no backing down for Statesboro. Sophomore quarterback Davis Wiggins showed he wouldn't be rattled by an interception. Willams and Wiggins drove down the field, capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Wiggins to running back Tupac Lanier.

Trailing 28-21, Coach Pennington rolled the dice going for an onside kick. The ball took one bounce, right into the hands of a South Effingham player who returned it for a touchdown.

After the game Pennington said his team felt the onside kick would be in their favor.

"Honestly, in that look, we didn't line up in an onside kick package. We felt we knew what they would do on that kickoff return. We worked diligently all week long on that," Pennington said. "Our offense had just scored and our defense was on the field for a long time. Honestly their (South Effingham) defense was laboring a little bit. We took a chance, but we didn't execute. Credit them for making the play and running it back."

Statesboro will have to search for their first win of the season, as well as the first region win on the road against Brunswick.

The Blue Devils lost to Brunswick last year 28-7.

 

Star

For a second consecutive season, South Effingham's Tyler Pullam proved to be a thorn in the side of Statesboro. Pullam passed for 116 yards and two scores while adding a touchdown run in the Mustangs' victory. SEHS has won two straight vs. the Devils — their only two wins in the rivalry.

 

Box Score

SE 0 14 0 21 — 35

SHS 14 0 0 7 — 21 

 

First Quarter

SHS: Williams 31 run (Miller kick), 5:42 

SHS: Williams 67 run (Miller kick), 3:56 

 

Second Quarter

SE: Pullum 31 pass to Signal (Lewis kick), 5:22

SE: Pullum 8 run (Lewis kick), :47

 

Fourth Quarter

SE: Pullum 6 pass to Tyler (Lewis kick), 14:21

SE: INT for TD, 8:21

SHS: Wiggins 10 pass to Lanier (Miller kick), 4:38

SE: 57 kickoff recovery (Lewis kick), 3:25

 

SE SHS

Total Yards 250 266

Rushes-Yards 39-134 26-238

Passing 116 28                                  

Comp-Att-Int 10-17-0 3-6-0

Turnovers 1 4

Penalties-Yards 6-45 6-45

 

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing_SE: Brown 20-57, Pullum 15-46; SHS: Williams 17-214, Lanier 4-6, Davis 3-18

Passing_SE: Pullum 10-17-116; SHS: Wiggins 3-6-28

Receiving_ SE: Brown 3-24, Boyd 2-40, Signal 2-33; SHS: Davis 2-18;