Early in the week Southeast Bulloch head coach Jared Zito said the key to pulling off an upset over No. 3 ranked Cedar Grove was to survive the first quarter and to try and control the clock and limit mistakes. The Yellow Jackets managed to do that and actually led 3-0 after one quarter of play. The onslaught was only temporarily put off though as the Saints outscored the Jackets 40-7 in the second and third quarter and ended the Jackets season with a 48-10-win Friday in Ellenwood.
“I thought we came out and fought hard in the beginning and made it interesting for a while,” said Zito. “We had a few critical mistakes in the second quarter and weren’t able to sustain drives and had some missed tackles on defense. Things really got away from us in the third quarter.”
The Yellow Jackets actually drove the ball down the field against the highly ranked home team. A 23-yard Tradon McBride run helped Southeast Bulloch get to the Saints 5-yard line, but the drive would stall and Andrew Slone’s 24-yard field goal attempt was just wide right.
The Jacket defense was able to hold the high-octane offense of the Saints on their next series. Southeast Bulloch’s offense took over and got a good but a costly play on their drive as quarterback Khristian Clark hit receiver Tyler Griffin for a 23-yard pick up down to the 32-yard line but was taken down hard on the play and would limp his way around the rest of the game.
The Jacket drive stalled at the 30-yard line and Cole Snider lined up for a 48-yard field goal. The kick just managed to get over the crossbar and the Yellow Jackets took a 3-0 lead which would hold through halftime.
The Saints were able to take the lead early in the second quarter as quarterback Elliot Colson ran in from 13-yards away for a 7-3 lead.
The athleticism and size of the Saints then started to show as they held the Jacket offense and then quickly scored again as Colson hit a streaking Trevon Ferrell in stride at the goal line for a 45-yard touchdown and a 14-3 lead.
Arkansas commit Rashod Dubinion had over 100 yards rushing in the game and added a 10-yard touchdown late in the second for a 21-3 lead.
The Yellow Jacket offense got a spark moments later as Clark hit Griffin for a 38-yard reception to the Saints 31. Clark then tossed one up high in the end zone and Griffin reached up and pulled in down as time expired to keep the Jackets in the game for a 21-10 halftime score.
“I was proud of the way the guys continued to fight all night and even got that score right before the half,” said Zito. “They have nothing to be ashamed of as they had a great year and ran into who I feel may be the best team in all of Class-AAA.”
The second half the Saints put things into overdrive as they reeled off three scores and held the Jacket offense in check with highly recruited 4-star defensive lineman Christen Miller doing most of the damage, and UGA commit Kayin Lee locking down Griffin for the most part.
A 55-yard touchdown run by Dubinion, a 5-yard run by Colson and a 5-yard pass from Colson to Ferrell added up to a 41-10 lead after three quarters of play. Bo Walker added a 36-yard touchdown early in the fourth for the final points of the game.
After the game Zito reflected on what was a successful season for the Jackets capped off by their first state playoff win since 1973.
“I am unbelievably proud and it was an awesome year to win the first state playoff game in 48 years,” said Zito. “The fact that we made it to the second round says a lot about these guys and we just want to thank the players, the coaching staff and the community for the season we had. We finished 10-2 and we have plenty to build on for next year.”