BROOKLET – The wait is over.
After a 10-year absence from the state playoffs, the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets will returning to the postseason this year following their 42-21 win over Beach High School Friday night at Fred Shaver Field.
“We’re happy for our players, we’re happy for our school and we’re happy for our community,” SEB Head Coach Pat Collins said.
As they’ve done all season, the Yellow Jackets dominated the second quarter, outscoring the Bulldogs (0-8, 0-5) 21-6 to take a 28-13 lead at halftime. Senior fullback Tyler Epps scored all three touchdowns in the stanza from 1 yard out as part of his 244-yard, four-touchdown performance.
For the season, Southeast Bulloch (6-1-1, 4-1) has outscored its opponents 126-27 in the second quarter, which is far and away the Jackets’ most dominant quarter.
“We were able to establish the run tonight,” Collins said. “That’s who we are, and we had such success with it early that we were able to grind it out tonight.”
That running game accounted for all 385 yards the Yellow Jackets had on the night, as they didn’t even attempt a single pass.
Senior Antonio McMillian started the scoring for SEB with a 10-yard score on the Yellow Jackets’ first possession to cap off a seven-play, 55-yard drive.
After Beach answered with a touchdown of its own, SEB took control in the second quarter. The Yellow Jackets went 73 yards, with Epps accounting for 64 of them, to reclaim the lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Beach fumbled, and SEB recovered on the Beach 23. Six plays later, Epps found the end zone again for his second score of the night.
On Beach’s next play after the kickoff, Justin Youmans intercepted a DeAvery Smith pass to give the Yellow Jackets the ball again. Epps again accounted for most of the yards on the 67-yard drive to give SEB a 28-7 lead.
Some sloppy play by the Yellow Jackets led to a Beach touchdown late in the second quarter to cut the lead to 28-13 and was a cause for concern for Collins.
“We seemed to lose our concentration there at the end of the first half, and it breathed some life into Beach,” he said. “It’s a sign of a team that has to learn how to handle prosperity.”
The second half saw Epps score his 19th rushing touchdown of the season, 20th overall, on a 28-yard run, and sophomore Michael Davis added a 48-yard run in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring for the Yellow Jackets.
In addition to Epps’ 244 yards, McMillian added 74 for SEB.
Defensively, Youmans ended the evening with two interceptions and the SEB defensive line pressured Smith all night, leading to three interceptions. All told, the Yellow Jackets forced five turnovers on the night.
“Our defense played really well,” Collins said. “They did a great job of setting up our offense tonight.”
Despite the big win, Collins said there’s still a lot for the Yellow Jackets to work on as they prepare for the last two games of the regular season. While Southeast Bulloch has clinched a playoff spot, it can still improve its seeding before the state playoffs.
“When we reach one goal — and getting into the playoffs was our goal — our destination changes,” Collins said. “We’ll make a new goal and try to meet that now.”