First Downs 5 9
Rushes-Yards 31-107 42-145
Passing Yards 10 48
Total Yards 117 193
Comp-Att-Int 2-6-1 3-10-0
Turnovers 2 2
Penalties-Yards 15-105 5-45
Rushing: SEB: Epps – 24 carries, 86 yards PHS: Huff – 3 carries, 48 yards
Passing: SEB: C. Carter – 3-10, 48 yards BHS: Street 2-6, 10 yards, INT
Receiving: SEB: Epps, 2 rec., 30 yards BHS: Wells, rec., 6 yards
BHS 0 0 0 0 — 0
SEB 0 0 0 0 — 0
BROOKLET — With 8.5 seconds remaining in a scoreless game, Southeast Bulloch sophomore Ethan Sandhagen hooked a 32-yard field goal attempt which resulted in the Yellow Jackets and their cross-county rival Portal Panthers ending their season-opening game in a 0-0 tie.
“I told (Sandhagen) that I’ve got just as much confidence in him now as before and that he’d make the next one,” SEB Head Coach Pat Collins said.
Both defenses were dominant with the Yellow Jackets only able to muster 193 total yards of offense while the Panthers were held to 117.
“We spent the past week and a half getting ready for Southeast Bulloch,” said Portal Assistant Coach Josh Thompson. “We had a good scout team and we knew they were going to try to ram in down our throats.”
Penalties and turnovers thwarted any scoring opportunities both teams had for most of the game, which ended as a tie due to the contest being a non-region game.
The Yellow Jackets (0-0-1) threatened to score on their first possession, but a holding penalty with SEB at the Panthers’ 10-yard line pushed them back. They then failed to convert on a 4th and 18.
On Yellow Jackets’ next possession, Keagan Carter caught a pass and was running down the sideline, but lost control of the ball near the Panthers’ 25 which Portal recovered.
“We did things to stop ourselves and we have to correct those,” Collins said.
Portal’s (0-0-1) best chance to score came late in the third quarter thanks to a penalty. During an excellent punt by SEB’s Cole Carter, the Yellow Jackets were flagged for an illegal chop block, forcing the Yellow Jackets to punt again from their own goal line.
This time, Portal’s Casey Jones was unblocked and was able to block the punt, giving the Panthers the ball on the SEB 18. However, a delay of game and two defensive stops by the Yellow Jackets forced the Panthers into a 4th and 20. A deep pass was intercepted by the Yellow Jackets inside their 5-yard line.
On Portal’s next possession, Darius Huff broke off the game’s biggest offensive play, weaving in and out of defenders for a 40-yard gain to the Yellow Jackets’ 8-yard line.
On the next play, however, SEB’s Laramie Wright was able to force and recover a fumble, ending the Panthers’ threat.
With 4:48 remaining in the game, SEB took possession of the ball on their own 11. Aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a 4th down conversion, the Yellow Jackets were able to sustain their best drive of the game leading to Sandhagen’s field goal attempt.
Huff led the Panthers with 48 yards rushing on three carries while senior Tyler Epps led the Yellow Jackets with 86 yards rushing on 24 carries and adding 30 yards receiving.
“I was really pleased with the effort of our kids,” Thompson said of his Panthers. “We only have 34 kids playing, and only about 20 were to get after it hard tonight.”
The heat and lack of depth began to show in the second half as several Portal players suffered cramping muscles, but overall, Thompson was pleased with the team’s performance despite the obvious areas that need improvement.
“We’ve got to do a better job with penalties,” he said. Portal piled up 105 yard in penalties on the night.
For the Yellow Jackets, Collins was quick to praise his defense.
“They saved us tonight,” he said. “Our offense was out of kilter, so it was big for our defense to step up and keep us in the game.”
The Yellow Jackets were playing without 2012 All-Region running back Antonio McMillian who was out with an injury sustained in a recent scrimmage.
“We’ll keep working and get better,” he said.
While SEB was without McMillian, Portal was without Head Coach David Nesmith who was forced to miss Friday’s game after being ejected in the Panthers’ final game in 2012. Georgia High School Association rules require a coach to sit out the game following an ejection.
Southeast Bulloch will travel to Montgomery County next Friday while Portal will host Tattnall County at the Portal Athletic Complex.