First Downs 25 10
Rush Yards 235 303
Pass Yards 98 22
Total Yards 333 325
Passing 10-24-4 1-2-0
Turnovers 5 0
Penalties 6-50 4-45
Rushing: BHS: Frazier, 28-121, TD.
SHS: Summers, 14-97, 2 TD.
Passing: BHS: Dixon, 6-11-2.
SHS: Pennington, 1-2-0 TD.
Receiving: BHS: Jones, 4-29.
SHS: Summers, 1-22, TD.
BHS 8 6 0 0 — 14
SHS 14 7 7 7 — 35
7:02 — Frazier (BHS) 15 run, Dixon pass to Sweeting
3:55 — Daniels (SHS) 4 run, Rodriquez kick
3:01 — Summers (SHS) 22 pass from Pennington, Rodriquez kick
3:31 — Dixon (BHS) 1 run, Sweeting run failed
0:32 — Summers (SHS) 9 run, Rodriquez kick
0:53 — Daniels (SHS) 6 run, Rodriquez kick
6:18 — Thomas-McCray (SHS) 24 run, Rodriquez kick
Brunswick showed why it is such a fierce rivalry, but Statesboro showed why it has won the last three games in the series as the Blue Devils outlasted their opponents and pulled away late for a 35-14 season-opening win Friday night at Womack Field.
No. 2 Statesboro (1-0) trailed briefly in the first quarter and allowed No. 6 Brunswick (0-2) to draw even at 14-14 in the second quarter, but the Devils took the lead back before halftime and never looked back.
“We know that we’re in for a challenge when we play Brunswick,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington. “We knew it was going to be a grind, but I liked what I saw out of our team.”
Four Statesboro running backs combined for 303 rushing yards and three of them found the end zone as the Devils — much like they did in two wins over Brunswick last season — wore down the Pirates.
The Statesboro defense forced five turnovers that shifted the tide in its favor, but had its share of struggles early.
Spreading the Devils with four wide receiver sets, Brunswick found running room inside and tired Statesboro with long, sustained drives in the early going, as evidenced by a 25-10 advantage in first downs.
“We got a little bit ahead of ourselves and got winded early on,” said Pennington. “Eventually, we were able to be more patient. We bent but we didn’t break, and we were able to tighten up whenever (Brunswick) got down close.”
In the third quarter, Haydon Rollins finally sent a message for the Devils with a tackle for an eight-yard loss. Reggie Owens recorded a sack on the next play, forcing the first Brunswick punt of the night, and the Pirates crossed midfield just once more on the night.
“Brunswick is always the quickest and the fastest,” said Rollins. “They’re tough, but we were confident the whole time. Once we made a couple of plays and got ahead, we knew we could win when they had to pass.”
Brunswick wasted no time getting onto the scoreboard to begin the game. Starting from their own 26 yard line, the Pirates launched a six play, 74 yard drive capped by a 15-yard scoring run by Demetrius Frazier (28 carries, 121 yards, TD). Brunswick quarterback Corey Dixon hit Avery Sweeting on a short pass for the two-point conversion.
Refusing to be rattled by the quick strike, Statesboro’s offense went straight to work on its next possession. Michael Summers returned the kickoff to the Blue Devil 40 and added a 35-yard run around the left side to drive deep into Pirate territory. Statesboro inched inside the 5 yard line before Quan Daniels (9 carries, 52 yards, 2 TDs) finished off the drive with a touchdown run.
The Devils elected to take an Alan Rodriquez extra point instead of attempting to tie the score, but didn’t trail much longer.
On the next Brunswick snap, Corey Harden stepped in front of a Dixon pass and returned the ball to the Pirate 10.
A chop block penalty pushed Statesboro back to the 22, but that didn’t phase the Devils. Reid Penninigton threw a swing pass out to Summers, who briefly bobbled the ball, but managed to hang on and raced in for the Devils’ second touchdown in 54 seconds. Rodriquez’ extra point made it a 14-8 Statesboro lead.
The Pirates’ next drive tied it up as a 16-play march spanned 79 yards and converted four third downs, but the Devils pulled ahead for good on Summers’ 9-yard run with just 32 seconds to play in the first half.
“One of the things that we need to win is to get consistency from our running game,” said Steve Pennington. “Tonight, we got good blocking from our line and good running from our running backs all night.”
After a Rollins interception early in the third quarter, Brunswick came up with a goal line stand to stay within 21-14, but another pick from J.D. Pope set up Daniels’ second touchdown of the night and pushed the lead to 28-14.
With just over eight minutes to play, the Pirates’ last gasp got them deep into Devil territory, but Carl Moore returned another interception inside the Brunswick red zone and Rahkym Thomas-McCray sealed the win three plays later with a
24- yard touchdown
The Blue Devils return to action Friday at Washington County.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.