BROOKLET – Southeast Bulloch’s quest to get their first state playoff win since 1973 came up short Friday night as the Yellow Jackets fell to Westminster High School 31-7 at Fred Shaver Field.
The Yellow Jackets struggled offensively all night as their power running game was shut down by a Westminster defense that allowed only nine first downs and 125 yards rushing to a team that averaged 285 yards on the ground during the regular season.
“Westminster did a tremendous job with their secondary providing run support,” SEB Head Coach Pat Collins. “Our effort was good, but we just got defeated tonight.”
The game started out well for SEB as the Wildcats (7-4) fumbled the opening kickoff and the Yellow Jackets recovered at the 20. Southeast Bulloch was able to drive to the Wildcats’ eight-yard line before the drive stalled. Andrew Cribbs missed a 27-yard field goal wide left.
From that point until midway through the second quarter, both teams struggled to find a rhythm on offense.
Midway through the second quarter, the Yellow Jackets, facing a fourth-and-seven from their own 47, lined up to punt.
Westminster sent a heavy rush and were able to block Caleb Carter’s punt. Nance Hill scooped the ball up and ran 30 yards to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
The Wildcats then forced a turnover on SEB’s next possession.
On the next drive they went 81 yards on seven plays, including two long pass plays. Rankin Woley capped of the drive with a five-yard run to put Westminster up 14-0.
After another SEB pass was intercepted, Blake Gillikin added a 27-yard field goal just before halftime to put SEB in a 17-0 hole.
The Yellow Jacket offense continued to struggled in the second half as the Wildcats’ defensive line was able to hold SEB in check. Their longest running play of the night was only 16 yards.
While SEB’s offense struggled, the Wildcats added two touchdowns in the third quarter to extend their lead to 31-0 which, by rule, resulted in a running clock in the final quarter.
Caleb Carter was able to find Klayton Carter on a 51-yard touchdown pass late in the game to avoid the shutout but it wasn’t enough to save the Yellow Jackets’ season.
“We’re very indebted to our seniors for their leadership and helping us build our program,” Collins said.
Individually, Chase Walker led the Yellow Jackets with 77 yards on 21 carries. Cecil McCollum added 19 yards on six carries.
Despite the disappointment in the loss, Collins said there was still a lot his team could learn from hosting their first state playoff game since the early 2000s.
“When you reach the state playoffs you going to play exceptional teams,” Collins said. “Tonight they were the better team and that’s the level we have to get to.”
The Yellow Jackets end their season at 7-4.