SYLVANIA – Junior running back Travis Coles reached 1,000 yards rushing for the second-straight season, Screven County evened the overall record against Southeast Bulloch at 12-12 and the Gamecocks earned the No. 3 seed in the GHSA Region 3-AA State Playoffs as they knocked off the rival Yellow Jackets 49-22 at Kelly Memorial Stadium Friday.
Coles would finish the game with 18 carries for 100 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was pulled in the third quarter with SCHS leading the Yellow Jackets 36-6. Three different Gamecocks reached the end zone in the win, and seven players carried the football.
“I was pleased that we were able to play a lot of people,” said Screven coach Pat Collins. “When they sign up, they sign up with the anticipation of playing on Friday night under these lights. I was glad we were able to get a lot of these guys in.”
Backup quarterback Justin Zeigler stepped in and went 2-for-2 through the air for 98 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown strike to darryl Mosley.
The Gamecocks set the pace by forcing an SEB punt on the game’s opening drive. Screven kept it on the ground and ran it five straight times, capping off their first drive with a 33-yard touchdown run by Cameron Abraham.
After trading off three-and-outs to start off the second quarter, Tevin Robbins set up the next Gamecock score when he picked off a third-down Joe Wilson pass and returned it to the Screven 28-yard line.
“I though our defense played hard,” said Collins. “Our defensive coaches don’t get enough credit. They had those boys ready to play each week, and that turnover was big, because it gave us a short field to work with. Coach Johnny Thompson – our defensive coordinator – he and the other defensive coaches had that team ready to play.”
Three plays after the Robbins pick, Coles punched it in from 5 yards out and the PAT made it 15-0.
A 9-play drive that lasted 4:24 and ended with Coles’ second touchdown put SCHS up 22-0, but SEB would immediately respond when – on the next play from scrimmage – Tharon Davis took a handoff from backup quarterback Tucker Bettis 60 yards to the house and cut the Gamecock lead to 22-6.
The Yellow Jackets did not get another score until the fourth quarter when – trailing 43-6, SEB fullback Deion Evans took a Bettis handoff and ran it in from 69 yards out. Davis ran in the 2-point conversion. Backup running back Blake Fulmer got SEB’s third score with a 24-yard touchdown run, and Bettis connected with Lenton Adams for the conversion.
The Gamecocks out-gained the Jackets 322-212 on the ground and rushed for six touchdowns.
The win helps the Gamecocks with their seeding for the GHSA Class AA playoffs. Screven will hit the road to take on No. 2 seed Fitzgerald at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Screven exited in the first round in 2006, dropping it to Charleton County 43-6, but Collins is pleased with the improvement he has seen.
“We won six games last year,” Collins said, “and this year we won seven. We were the fourth seed last year. Now we’re the third seed. I like to think that, from a program standpoint, we’re moving up the ladder. That’s what we want to concentrate on doing.”