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Wildcats whip Statesboro
Statesboro High running back Tyler Gordon gets boxed in by a host of Richmond Hill defenders during Thursday night's game in Richmond Hill. The Blue Devils fell behind early and were overwhelmed in the second half en route to a 39-14 defeat at the hands of the Wildcats. - photo by BRYAN BROWNING/Special

    To say Statesboro High School got off to a rough start in a Thursday sub-region matchup against Richmond Hill would be an understatement.
    In just under six minutes, Richmond Hill scored a touchdown, recorded two safeties and Statesboro starting running back Mahlon Williams went down with what appeared to be an ankle injury. He would not return to the game.
    The Blue Devils weren't able to overcome the rough start, losing to the Wildcats 39-14 to drop to 1-5 on the season.
    After the game, head coach Steve Pennington took accountability for the loss, stating he needed to do a better job of preparing his team.
    “Preparation is vital in any competition. I’ve got to do a better job of preparing our coaches and our players to play football,” Pennington said. “X’s and O’s is one thing, but to be mentally and emotionally prepared is an ongoing challenge every day. That’s my role and my job to do that. I’ve got to do better. We as coaches have to stay the course.”
    The Blue Devils started the game on a promising note. Richmond Hill drove down the field on their opening drive all the way to the 2-yard line. However, Statesboro’s defense stopped the Wildcats on fourth and two.
    Then the momentum changed. Not only did the Blue Devils’ first play of the game go for -2 yards and a safety, but more importantly Mahlon Williams went down with an ankle injury. In the past three games, Williams rushed for six touchdowns and over 500 yards. In a loss to Coffee County, Williams also accounted for 77 percent of the Blue Devils’ total yardage.
    A day before Statesboro’s game against Richmond Hill, Coach Pennington said he wanted to get more players involved in the offense besides Williams.
    “Well that’s not how we wanted to start getting more players involved,” said Pennington after the game. “We have a lot of talented guys that can run the ball well, but they have different skill sets.”
    For the first time this season, Williams didn’t lead the team in rushing as Jalen Davis stepped in and rushed for 57 yards on nine carries. Tyler Gordon also ran for 41 yards on 11 attempts and a touchdown.
    After the Wildcats’ safety in the first quarter, Richmond Hill took the ensuing drive to the end zone, capped by a Brian Hughes two-yard touchdown run. Hughes ran for five touchdowns, including a 69-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
    As a team, the Wildcats ran for 266 yards on 30 carries.
    “We just didn’t get the job done on defense,” Pennington said. “Richmond Hill came in the game very well prepared. We didn’t have an answer at all on defense. We weren’t even in the ballpark.”
    The Wildcats held an 18-7 lead at halftime.
    To make matters worse for the Blue Devils, offensive lineman Connor McBride and defensive end DaVontae Bush would both go down with injuries in the second half.
    The Blue Devils will have a few extra days to rest as they take on Bradwell Institute at home. Statesboro, who dropped to 1-3 in Region 3-AAAAA football, could use a win against Bradwell Oct. 16 to get back into the playoff conversation.