Statesboro knew exactly what it needed to do and the outcome was never in doubt.
With a sub-region title on the line, the Blue Devils were in top form. Statesboro scored on each of its first three drives and rolled to a 31-7 win over Greenbrier Friday night at Womack Field.
“I think we had a pretty good feeling about this game for the last two weeks,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington. “We knew what needed to be done, and we came out and played a good ballgame in order to accomplish our objective.”
The Devils (7-2, 4-1 Region 2-AAAA) wasted no time in getting things going.
Statesboro took the opening kick and used its wishbone running attack to pound its way down the field. The Devils racked up three quick first downs and advanced near midfield before quarterback Reid Pennington executed a perfect play-action fake and found running back Aaron Lester all alone downfield for a 51 yard touchdown strike.
On its first possession, the Wolfpack (3-6, 2-3) was quickly forced to punt, and when the snap was errant, Brandon Lipsey dove on the loose ball to give Statesboro the ball inside the Greenbrier 30.
Lester quickly capped another SHS touchdown drive with a 4-yard scoring run, and a 31-yard field goal by Caleb Brown a few minutes later gave the Devils a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
“Getting ahead early is always going to benefit you,” said Steve Pennington. “It’s something we haven’t had the luxury of in some of our games this season, but tonight it helped to take some of the pressure off.”
In the second half, it was the defense’s turn to control the game.
Greenbrier received the third quarter kickoff, but the Devils forced at 3-and-out that kept all of the momentum on the home sideline.
Even as two Statesboro drive turned the ball over on downs, its defense continued to stifle a Wolfpack attack designed to keep its opponents off balance.
Greenbrier running back Jahvon Hardrick accounted for all of the Wolfpack’s rushing yards and also caught a pass for six more, but the rest of his teammates were unable to follow suit against the Devils.
“It was a very good effort by our defense,” said Steve Pennington. “Greenbrier has a bunch of formations that they can throw at you, but our defense’s ability to get them off the field quickly kept them from getting into a rhythm on
Hardrick barreled in from three yards out to pull the Wolfpack within 17-7 midway through the third quarter, but they never got any closer.
Junior running back Michael Summers helped to drive the final nail into Greenbrier’s coffin in the final quarter.
Summers answered Hardrick’s score with a 2-yard touchdown plunge, and capped the scoring late in the game with a 41-yard romp down the right sideline.
“We keep battling and battling,” said Summers. “We were able to get the lead early, and then tried to wear them down. When they got a little tired in the fourth quarter, we were able to knock them down and step on their throat to put an end to it.”
With the win, Statesboro clinches a state playoff birth and at least one postseason home game.
Next week, the Devils travel to sub-region A champion Brunswick — which SHS topped in the season opener — for a final game to decide the region champion and the top seed out of 2-AAAA in the state playoffs.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.