With a home playoff game on the line, Southeast Bulloch's senior night game and regular season finale at Fred Shaver Field began in a perfect way.
Windsor Forest kicked the ball deep to senior Jontrell Wells who returned it 81 yards nearly untouched to find the end zone before the near capacity crowd on the home side could find its seats. The momentum stayed with the Yellow Jackets all night and they went on to win, 48-13, their sixth victory in a row.
The victory secured the second seed in Region 3 AAA for SEB and a home game next Friday night in the first round of the state playoffs. Southeast Bulloch will face Pike County, which is located just south of Griffin.
Pike County is the third seed out of Region 4 AAA and has a 7-3 record. Pike County has outscored their opponents 338-90 on the season. Game time will be 7:30 p.m. at Fred Shaver Field in Brooklet and ticket information will be released early next week.
It is the third consecutive trip to the state playoffs for the Yellow Jackets, who are looking for their first playoff win since 1974.
After SEB's shocking kickoff return for a touchdown, the visiting Knights wouldn't stay down long as freshman quarterback Devin Howard orchestrated an 11-play, 70-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 7 halfway through the first quarter. SEB's defense had no answers to running back Traivon Bass-Black who didn't have a negative play on the first drive.
With the ball in hand, Blaize Minick led an inspired Jackets offense down the field, running the ball right down the Knights' throat with Chase Walker. The drive ended with Walker scoring his first touchdown of the night, moving him past hall of famer Herschel Walker in career rushing touchdowns in Georgia and giving SEB a 14-7 lead.
The stadium erupted as the referee gave the senior his well-earned 87th touchdown ball. After a muffed kickoff return by Windsor Forest, the Jackets had the ball again on the Knights' 30-yard line. Just four plays later, it was a 21-7 game, with Wells scoring on a 19-yard run.
An ensuing three and out by Windsor Forest gave the red hot Jackets the ball back and Minick ended a third straight scoring drive with his lone pass of the night, a toss to Toby Williams to make it 28-7.
At halftime, Coach Steve Pennington received a plaque commemorating his 200th win, earned in a victory over Johnson of Savannah last month.
A blocked punt by SEB to end the first drive of the second half quickly led to another SEB touchdown.
Windsor Forest got a 40-yard kick return from DaMozzio Harris to set up their second and final scoring drive of the night.
Walker put a quick stop to any Knights momentum on the next drive. The senior highlighted his 164-yard night with a 66-yard touchdown romp to keep SEB squarely in control. Walker needs 123 yards rushing against Pike County to reach 6,000 yards for his remarkable career.
Windsor Forest had no more answers on offense or defense and ran out the clock, sealing their 7-3 record. SEB started the season off 0-4, but was able to turn it into a 6-4 season with a home playoff game on the docket.
Pennington credited his team's willingness to "trust the process." After the losses, the Jackets "made values important and learned how to compete."