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SHS, SEB face off in scrimmage
Statesboro running back Akarri Williams, center, escapes the grasp of Southeast Bulloch defender Tyler Epps on the way to a touchdown during Friday's scrimmage. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    BROOKLET — Statesboro and Southeast Bulloch took to Fred Shaver Field Friday night for a preseason scrimmage.
    A cloudy evening quickly turned into a steady downpour, but the Blue Devils stayed dominant throughout. Akarri Williams and Daniel Murphy found the end zone twice each, Claxton transfer Zach Grant racked up 78 rushing yards and a touchdown, and the Statesboro varsity offense amassed 355 total yards.
    “Everything clicked for us from the get-go on offense,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “It was good to see some of our new schemes and formations having success. The rain made it tough, but we might have to play in it again. We wanted to embrace the opportunity and treat it as a positive.”
    Early on, the Yellow Jackets’ offense seemed ready to go blow for blow with the Devils. Antonio McMillan and Tyler Epps combined for four consecutive running plays of 10 or more yards before Epps fumbled at the end of a run. Statesboro’s Jacob Schofill recovered and the possession was restarted at the SEB 35.
    The Jackets continued to make progress against Statesboro on the ground despite going 0-for-4 passing throughout the night. SEB totaled 68 yards on its first four-minute possession.
    “I thought we started out pretty good,” SEB coach Pat Collins said. “But give Statesboro credit. That’s a very good team. We kind of lost our focus after that first fumble and never got back going again.”
    Last season, Statesboro lacked explosiveness at times. The Devils certainly started the process of turning over a new leaf Friday night.
    Grant took an option pitch from SHS quarterback Colin Chance on the Devils’ first play and raced 53 yards. Two plays later, Williams powered into the end zone from 10 yards out.
    After resetting at its own 35, Statesboro blazed downfield again as Chance hit Anthony Curtis for a 48 yard strike. Grant got the ball inside the SEB 5 and Williams finished things off from a yard out. Restarting again, Curtis was the target of another deep pass, but he deflected the ball to Malik Evans, who finished off a 58 yard pass play. Murray found the end zone on a 2 yard run and George Hill hit his third PAT to finish off Statesboro’s opening period of offense.
    “Two things that have to happen for us is that we execute on offense and not allow big plays on defense,” Collins said. “Neither of those happened. That’s definitely a concern we need to work on.”
    The offenses slowed down considerably as the rain picked up.
    SEB’s second possession – beginning at the Devils’ 25 - produced just a few yards and a missed field goal.
    A holding penalty backed up Statesboro’s offense during its turn, but Williams rushed twice for 30 yards and Grant closed it out from 3 yards away.
    Things went from scrimmage to serious late in the night as McMillan went down awkwardly and clutched his right knee. McMillan — who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards last season — wasn’t able to put any weight on the injured leg and was on crutches by the end of the game.
    Collins said that further evaluation is needed concerning McMillan’s availability going forward.
    Both teams return to the practice field for two more weeks before starting the season Aug. 30. Southeast Bulloch welcomes cross-county rival Portal while Statesboro hosts Lakeside, Evans.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.