BROOKLET — When Southeast Bulloch looked on the other side of the ball Friday night, they saw what they hope to become.
Running a nearly identical offense to the one favored by SEB, Swainsboro commanded the game with big plays and few mistakes as they handed the Jackets a 34-0 defeat. The Jackets, in their first year under head coach Pat Collins, were shut out for the third straight game, but showed some progress on both sides of the ball.
For one, the Jackets were only down 14-0 at the half against the undefeated Tigers (5-0, 3-0 Region 3-AA). A stop by Swainsboro late in the first half on fourth down and four stonewalled SEB momentum, but the Tigers couldn’t add any points on their final drive of the first half, either.
Second, rather than end the scoreless streak the easy way, Southeast Bulloch chose to go for a touchdown on fourth down and goal from the 2-yard line of Swainsboro. Antonio McMillian was stopped at the one to end a 14-play, 64-yard drive that needed to be a 65-yard drive. Still, it was the best sustained offense of the night for SEB.
Third, the Jackets committed no penalties, compared to five flags for 55 yards against the Tigers.
Moral victories aside, the Jackets saw a picture of what they want to look like in the future when Swainsboro had the ball.
The Tigers ripped off 12 plays of 10 yards or more out of the Wing-T offense. Four plays went longer than 20 yards and the Tigers were automatic inside the 10-yard line.
Jemerico Bell ran inside and outside for the Tigers, picking up 117 yards and scoring three times on 19 rushes. Quan Gardner pounded the ball between the tackles, carrying the ball 12 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Gardner gained many of his yards with SEb defenders draped all over him.
When the main duo for Swainsboro wasn’t at work, a host of bit players also contributed: Lynquez Blair, Deante Johnson and Shaquille Cowart all ripped off long runs in the misdirection offense.
Blair, the Swainsboro quarterback, only threw the ball for show (and once on a fake punt). Blair completed no passes in just three attempts. He didn’t need to throw.
Southeast Bulloch (2-4, 0-4 Region 3-AA) got another strong game from David Johnson, who ground out 64 yards on 16 carries, but the Jackets could not beat Swainsboro to the edge of the field for long runs around the tackles.
With more experience and time, those sort of plays could begin coming regularly for the Jackets. For now, however, the successes are confined to moral victories.