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Rebels wreck Devils at the wire
SHS Football
Statesboro running back Kam Mikell breaks loose on a 52-yard touchdown run during the second quarter of Friday's game against Effingham County in Springfield. Statesboro led for much of the game, but fell in the final minutes. - photo by JOSH AUBREY

The Effingham County Rebels had just installed a firework cannon prior to Friday’s game with Statesboro. Little did they know how much they’d use it, or the fireworks that would happen on the field as the Rebels recovered a muffed kickoff by the Blue Devils with less than a minute to go in the game and a 28-yard field goal by Louis Meza as time expired gave the Rebels a thrilling 34-31 victory securing the second seed in the state tournament. 

In a game between two of the top 10 scoring defenses in all of Class 6-A it was offense and penalties that proved to be the story of the game. Statesboro had 262 yards of total offense while the Rebels had 378 yards of offense. Statesboro ended the game with 14 penalties for 130 yards including five personal fouls. Effingham was penalized two times for 10 yards. 

“The bottom line is they are a discipled team and we aren’t and that’s my fault,” said Statesboro coach Jeff Kaiser. “We weren’t disciplined enough to win this game. We had way too many penalties and mistakes and that is 100 percent my fault.” 

Following a Caleb Tisby 82-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown just over nine minutes to go in the game Statesboro led Effingham 31-21. The Rebels then marched downfield and capped a four-minute scoring drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by Miquel Allen to cut the Statesboro lead to 31-28. 

The Statesboro offense went three and out and hurt matters even more with back-to-back penalties on the ensuing punt. After two good punts Avery Newton struggled on the third punt and the Rebels took over at their own 48-yard line. A screen pass to Xayvier Coppock would be good for 41-yard pickup to the Statesboro 11-yard line. The Blue Devil defense held from there and Meza tied the game on a 28-yard field goal 31-31. 

“We made a couple plays on defense but couldn’t get in a rhythm on offense in the second half,” said Kaiser. “We got behind the chains too much and penalties killed us, and then the kick off at the end which we should have had. Special teams also got us bad tonight.” 

The Blue Devils started the game the way Kaiser had hope to as they took over nine minutes off the clock and grabbed a 3-0 lead on a 32-yard field goal by Michael Crews. 

Effingham responded as they scored on the first play of the second quarter as quarterback Matthew Ford hit Miquel Allen for a 13-yard touchdown and a 7-3 lead. 

The Blue Devils quickly answered as quarterback Kam Mikell broke free and outraced the Rebels down the sidelines 73 yards for the touchdown. Crews extra point gave Statesboro a 10-7 lead, but this one was far from over. 

Slants and screen passes helped get the Rebels downfield and they’d cap their next drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Ford to Timothy Brown for a 14-10 Rebel lead.


The Blue Devils again responded, and once again it was Kam Mikell outrunning the Rebels down the near sidelines for a 52-yard touchdown run as Statesboro took a 17-14 lead which would take them to halftime. 

In the second half the Statesboro offense struggled while the Rebels kept chugging along. After a Blue Devil muffed punt gave the Rebels the ball at the 35-yard line Ford capped the drive with a 10-yard scoring strike to Ryan Wells for a 21-17 lead. 

With the Statesboro offense continuing to struggle the Statesboro defense finally took advantage of a Rebel miscue. Pinned at their own 28-yard line Aidan Imhoff picked off a Ford pass and went the distance for the touchdown to give Statesboro a 24-21 lead. 

The Statesboro offense would have to punt again and again the Rebels marched deep into Statesboro territory. At the Blue Devil 20-yard line Ford was stripped by Jamie Speight and Caleb Tisby scooped up the loose ball and went 82-yards for the Blue Devils final points of the night as they took a 31-21 lead with 9:54 left in the game. 

The loss drops the Blue Devils to 5-4 overall and 3-2 in region play. Up next Statesboro travels to Glynn Academy where they can sew up the No. 3 seed in the state tournament with a win.