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Statesboro can't keep up with Effingham County

Last year it was a wild shootout between Statesboro and Effingham that saw the Rebels come from 20 points down to win in Springfield 38-34. This time around instead of a shootout, the Blue Devils shot themselves in the foot, with three first half turnovers that proved too much to come back from, as Statesboro fell 20-15 to drop to 2-2 on the season.

“The last thing we told our kids was to protect the football,” said Statesboro coach Jeff Kaiser. “Three turnovers, with one going for a touchdown really killed us. We beat ourselves, they didn’t beat us.”

Statesboro actually outgained Effingham County with 312 yards of total offense to only 120 for the Rebels, but it would be the three Statesboro turnovers that would prove to be the difference in this one.

The Blue Devil offense was in excellent field position on their first drive of the game. Jaylen Roberson broke a tackle and went 45 yards before being brought down at the Effingham seven yard line. The offense stalled, and then on third down a bobbled exchange resulted in the ball being loose, and after both teams scrambled around the Rebels finally fell on it at their own 35 yard line.

With no score through one quarter of play Statesboro’s defense got them the ball back, as Flip Dixon picked off a Jerid Stokes pass, giving the Blue Devils the ball at the 35. A few plays later Statesboro quarterback Drake Horton was intercepted himself, and the Rebels took over at midfield.

It wouldn’t take the Rebels long to score as Stokes hooked up with tight end Necos Gadson on a crossing pattern, and he would go the rest of the way untouched for a 37 yard touchdown, and the Rebels had a 7-0 lead.

Coach Kaiser then put Sage Reese in at quarterback for the first time this year, and things didn't go well. On the first play from scrimmage Reese was stood up and while fighting ahead the ball was stripped away, and scooped up by the Rebels Joseph Solomon, who would go 35 yards for the touchdown. The two point conversion failed and Effingham was on top 13-0.

On the ensuing kickoff the Blue Devils Will Yawn gave Statesboro a bit of a spark with a 38 yard kickoff return into Rebel territory. The offense then proceeded to march downfield, with linebacker turned running back Corey McCullough doing a lot of the damage. McCullough would cap the drive with a 11 yard touchdown run. McCullough would then punch in the two point conversion, cutting the lead to 13-8, with 2:35 left in the half. That score would hold into halftime.

The Rebels came out of the third quarter and promptly went on a five minute drive, capped off by a seven yard Desmond House touchdown which extended the lead to 20-8.

The Blue Devil offense was unable to get going until late in the game as they went 70 yards on their final drive of the game, aided by a couple Effingham penalties. The drive culminated in a seven yard touchdown pass from Horton to Yawn to cut the lead to 20-15 with less than a minute to go.

The Blue Devil onside kick attempt was recovered by the Rebels, who were able to take a couple knees, and run out the clock, as they improved to 4-1 on the season.

“Our kids played hard, but I didn’t think we played too smart tonight,” Kaiser said. “We will tell out kids they can listen to the poison out there if they want to,or you can come back to work, and put your nose down and try to get better. It doesn’t get any easier.”

Up next Statesboro travels to West Laurens next Friday night for a non region matchup.