BROOKLET - One year after falling to Appling County with a state playoff spot on the line, the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets found themselves in the exact same situation, needing a win against the Pirates to reach the state playoffs.
This year the Yellow Jackets turned the tables on the Pirates, defeating Appling County 41-25 to reach the state playoffs and giving SEB (7-3, 6-0) the second seed from region 1-AAA.
"This is a tremendous win for our players, but it's bigger than that," said SEB Head Coach Pat Collins "This is big for our school, for our school spirit and for our Southeast Bulloch community."
Chase Walker ran for 145 yards on 36 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead an offensive attack that ran for 334 yards and added another 73 through the air.
The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 21-0 lead late in the second quarter as Walker, Cecil McCollum and Michael Davis all found the end zone. However, the Pirates Keelan Crosby scored on a 60-yard run just before the half to cut the lead to 21-6.
Walker and Davis added touchdowns in the second half to keep pace with the Pirates, who after struggling for most of the first half, found some life in the second, mostly behind the running of Crosby.
However, when they needed to, Southeast Bulloch's defense rose to the occasion and were able to get the stops they needed.
"It was like a championship fight," Collins said. "They hit us and instead of getting discouraged, our guys knuckled down and made plays."
On offense, Collins credited offensive line coach Brandon Peterson and running backs coach Jeremy Gantt with not only getting those units prepared, but in making plays calls that came up big for the Yellow Jackets, including a toss play that Davis took 57 yards to put SEB up 35-19 with 3:43 remaining.
Davis finished the night with 105 yards on seven carries.
Jaylon Wells added the game's final touchdown with 18 seconds remaining to provide the final margin of victory.
"Our guys set some goals and they worked to reach them," Collins said. "I'm really proud of the passion our guys played with."
For Appling County, Crosby led the Pirates with 267 yards on 15 carries and scored three touchdowns.
Southeast Bulloch will host Westminster High School, the third seed from Region 4-AAA on Friday at 7:30 at Fred Shaver field as they go for their first state playoff win since the state championship team of 1973.
Southeast Bulloch's Cecil McCollum is often the second or third option on the Yellow Jackets' offense, but stepped up to make huge plays Friday. McCollum hauled in a 27-yard touchdown pass to help extend an early lead and later chased down a 33-yard strike to convert a crucial third down. McCollum also topped 60 yards rushing on the night as SEB earned a state playoff berth.
ACHS 0 6 7 12 - 25
SEB 7 14 0 20 - 41
SEB_Walker 5 run (Cribbs kick), 7:58
SEB_McCollum 26 pass from Wells (Cribbs kick), 10:00
SEB_Davis 5 run (Cribbs kick), 1:11
ACHS_Crosby 60 run (kick failed), 0:22
ACHS_Morris 5 run (Martinez kick), 3:56
SEB_Walker 1 run (Cribbs kick), 8:29
ACHS_Crosby 9 run (2 pt. run failed), 3:57
SEB_Davis 57 run (Cribbs kick), 3:43
ACHS_Crosby 75 run (2 pt. run failed), 3:07
SEB_Wells 5 run (kick failed), 0:18
First Downs 10 17
Rushes-Yards 32-365 53-334
Passing Yards 13 73
Total Yards 378 407
Comp-Att-Int 2-11-0 3-3-0
Turnovers 3 1
Penalties-Yards 13-100 4-35
RUSHING_ ACHS: Crosby 15-267, 3 TDs; SEB: Walker 36-145, 2 TDs
PASSING_ ACHS: Crosby 2-11, 13 yards; SEB: Wells 1-1, 26 yards, TD
RECEIVING_ ACHS: Morris 1 rec. 7 yards; SEB: McCollum, 2 rec. 60 yards, TD