First Downs 16 13
Rush Yards 33-110 32-241
Pass Yards 131 59
Total Yards 241 300
Passing 16-26-3 5-6-0
Turnovers 2 1
Penalties 0-0 11-81
Rushing: TCHS: Purcell, 10-53. SHS: Daniels, 10-107, 2 TD.
Passing: TCHS: Purcell, 16-26, 131 yds., TD. SHS: Chance, 5-6, 59 yds.
Receiving: TCHS: Overton, 3-57. SHS: Evans, 2-23.
TCHS 0 2 0 6 — 8
SHS 0 3 20 7 — 30
10:37 — Hill (SHS) 38 field goal
4:27 — Safety (TCHS) (Daniels tackled for 1 yard loss)
10:31 — Daniels (SHS) 29 run (kick failed)
3:31 — Daniels (SHS) 18 run (Hill kick)
0:41 — Curtis (SHS) 69 run (Hill kick)
3:51 — Rawls (SHS) 5 run (Hill kick)
0:40 — Renfroe (TCHS) 16 pass from Purcell (pass failed)
In a game that featured a score better suited for baseball for more than a half, Statesboro finally found some offense to please the home crowd.
The Blue Devils (3-0) led a defensive struggle by a slim 3-2 margin at halftime, but exploded for 27 points over the final two quarters and ran away with a 30-8 victory over Tattnall County (1-2) Friday night at Womack Field.
“That was a very hard-fought game,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “I give Tattnall a lot of credit. Other than the score, they controlled the first half. We were able to do some things a little better in the second half and get the win.”
After receiving the kickoff to open the third quarter, the Devils went straight to work.
Having been kept out of the end zone in the first half, Statesboro needed just four plays to cross the goal line as Quan Daniels (10 carries, 107 yards, 2 TD) raced around the left edge for a 29-yard touchdown run.
A missed extra point by George Hill kept the SHS margin at 9-2, but the Devil defense stayed tough.
Tattnall quarterback Brandon Purcell (131 passing yards, 53 rushing yards) posed a threat with both his arm and legs, but Statesboro was able to tighten up and keep the Warriors from getting back into contention.
“(Purcell) is a heck of a player,” Pennington said. “We’re pretty glad that he’s a senior. He made some big plays, but we were able to get a lead and play in coverage and keep him from hurting us too bad.”
Daniels struck once again — this time from 18 yards out — to stretch the lead to 16-2 with 3:31 to go in the third quarter.
A quick three-and-out series by the Warriors returned the ball to the Devils who put the nail in the coffin just before the end of the quarter.
Junior running back Anthony Curtis got his first carry of the season and made it count, bursting through the middle of the defense and racing nearly untouched for a 69-yard scoring run.
“We have a lot of talented guys who can run the ball,” Pennington said. “But it all starts up front. We are a team that is still learning game by game and play by play on the offensive line. When we executed, those big plays happened.”
Jesse Burnett continued to lead the Devils’ defensive charge. The senior defensive end dropped Purcell twice on the night, including a fourth-down sack on the SHS 40-yard line midway through the fourth quarter in what was the Warriors’ last chance at mounting a comeback.
Sherrodric Rawls capped the Devils’ scoring with a 5-yard run late in the quarter.
Purcell finally got the Warriors into the end zone in the game’s final minute as he found Ryan Renfroe on a 16-yard strike. Tattnall recovered an onside kick to retain possession, but Jaeir Williams picked off Purcell in the end zone as the clock expired.
As with last week’s win over Academy of Richmond County, it was placekicker Hill who got the scoring started for the Devils. On its second drive of the night, Statesboro drove deep into Tattnall territory before stalling. Hill strolled out and drove a low line drive through the uprights for an early 3-0 lead.
Tattnall’s only first-half points came courtesy of its defense.
Statesboro stopped the Warriors on a 4th-and-1 play from the SHS 2, but Daniels was dropped in the end zone on the next play for a safety.
The test gets even tougher for the Devils next week as they travel to defending Class AAA champion — and new Region 3-AAAA rival — Burke County. The cross-region game won’t count toward determining the region champion but could be a preview of the Nov. 8 championship game.
“We want to savor every win,” Pennington said. “But I’m sure that it will be a long weekend preparing for Burke.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.