Friday Night Live replay
8 p.m., Monday & Tuesday, Northland Cable Channel 99
First Downs 14 26
Rushes-Yards 13-117 55-419
Passing Yards 145 1
Total Yards 262 420
Comp-Att-Int 10-24-2 1-2-0
Turnovers 3 0
Penalties-Yards 11-85 7-40
Rushing: JHS: Green, 8-116, TD. SEB: Epps, 22-205, 2 TD.
Passing: JHS: Green, 10-23, 145 yards, TD, 2 INT. SEB: C. Carter, 1-2, 1 yard.
Receiving: JHS: Myers, 4-58. SEB: K. Carter, 1-1.
JHS 7 0 7 6 — 20
SEB 0 21 0 10 — 31
11:00 — Miller (JHS) 34 pass from Green (Tatom kick)
11:23 — McMillan (SEB) 28 run (Sandhagen kick)
2:38 — Epps (SEB) 14 run (Sandhagen kick)
0:48 — McMillan (SEB) 49 run (Sandhagen kick)
5:11 — Green (JHS) 3 run (Tatom kick)
11:16 — Cribbs (SEB) 29 FG
9:44 — White (JHS) 12 pass from Green (Conversion failed)
6:24 — Epps (SEB) 33 run (Sandhagan kick)
BROOKLET — Tyler Epps had the weight of the world on his shoulders on Friday night.
His grandfather, Ricky Williams, died earlier in the week, and Epps decided to dedicate Southeast Bulloch’s game against the Johnson Atomsmashers to him.
Later, a teammate asked Epps to play for his cousin, too.
Epps pounded through Johnson’s defense for 205 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Yellow Jackets won 31-20 in the Region 1-AAA opener at Fred Shaver Field.
Epps left the game early in the third quarter after he suffered a bruised knee on a kickoff return, but missed only one drive. He reentered the game a drive later and scored from 33 yards out, and on the final drive, he came back for five more carries and an additional 48 yards to help ice the win.
“I was in straight pain, but I had to tough it out,” Epps said. “There are two people I’m playing for this week. My grandfather passed away this week, and I know he’s shining down on us right now. Another player asked me to play for his cousin this week, because he got in a car wreck. He passed away, too. I couldn’t sit on that bench too long. I had to get back out there and keep going. I wasn’t done.”
Antonio McMillan, playing in his second game since returning from a preseason injury, was equally impressive, rushing for 199 yards on 26 carries and adding two touchdowns of his own.
Johnson (0-5, 0-2) came out of the gate looking unstoppable, scoring on the game’s opening drive on three plays — runs of 8 and 22 yards by quarterback Raquan Green and a 34-yard pass to Darius Miller — but managed only two first downs for the remainder of the first half.
Southeast Bulloch (3-0-1, 1-0) exploded for 21 points in the second quarter, scoring on runs of 49 and 28 yards by McMillan and a 14-yard run by Epps.
An interception by Ryan McBride set up the first half’s final touchdown run, and another pick by Justin Youmans kept Johnson out of the end zone at the end of the second quarter.
The Atomsmashers chipped away at the SEB lead. Green completed 10 passes for 106 yards in the game and rushed for 116 yards on only 8 carries, including a 3-yard run in the third that cut SEB’s lead to 21-14.
Johnson’s other primary weapon, 6-foot-7 receiver Darrell Miller, was held to 58 yards on four catches.
“The guy was, what, 6-foot-7? Eight? Seven foot? Ten foot? I don’t know how tall he was,” SEB coach Pat Collins said. “But we did what we were supposed to do. They stopped themselves at times and our guys rose up and helped at times.”
The Yellow Jackets recorded their third takeaway in the fourth when Klayton Carter jumped on a JHS fumble.
“We bent a little bit and tried not to break,” Collins said. “Hats off to Jack Webb and the defensive staff.”
Southeast Bulloch’s freshman kicker, Andrew Cribbs, made a 29-yard field goal in the third to put the Jackets ahead 24-14, and a 12-yard touchdown pass from Green to Michael White was as close as the Atomsmashers could get.
Southeast Bulloch returns to action on Friday against Savannah High at 7:30 p.m.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.