Statesboro’s region opener was a game that had some positives, but was also a game filled with frustration and self-inflicted wounds as the Blue Devils fell to the Wayne County Yellow Jackets, 21-7 Friday night.
The Blue Devils’ lone scoring drive was methodical and they hit the home team from multiple angles. Senior running back Jaylin Roberson carried the ball four times for 29 yards and senior quarterback Drake Horton hit sophomore wide receiver Timothy Taylor for a 38 yard play over the middle.
A three yard carry from junior running back Aundell Grace gave the visiting Blue Devils a 7-0 lead with just under five minutes to go in the first quarter.
The good fortune stayed with Statesboro as junior cornerback Ames Rackleff dropped to his knee to pick off Wayne County’s Trey Pierce.
Two sacks and a false start from the Blue Devils started to give momentum back to the Yellow Jackets. Then an 85 yard punt return for a touchdown swung the momentum completely to the home side.
Statesboro responded with a three-and-out.
On the ensuing Yellow Jacket drive, Statesboro couldn’t stop the run. Antwon McBride went 24 yards, Pierce escaped on a third down to pick up 17 yards and Kaliz Hadley worked away for six yards.
Statesboro’s defense held strong as Pierce dropped back for three straight incompletions, turning the ball over on downs.
Roberson continued to plow away, carrying the ball eight yards twice. The drive was once again stalled by a 10 yard sack on Horton.
With momentum and the ball, Wayne County resorted to the passing game for a 10 yard gain on third down. After a few more conversions, Pierce then broke through the Statesboro line to go 59 yards to make it 14-7 with 1:23 left in the half.
Statesboro tried to keep the ball in the hands of Roberson to wind out the clock before half, but a 16 yard reception to Rusty Hoffman gave the Blue Devils some confidence.
With five seconds until half and on the Wayne County 38 yard line, Horton dropped back for one last chance. The ball fell into the hands of a Yellow Jacket who had open field in front of him.
The defender carried the interception all the way to the left side of the field, the crowd was already celebrating, but it was premature as Taylor pushed him out of bounds at the three to end the half.
Statesboro started the second half with the ball and used nearly six minutes of clock. Penalties plagued any hope of scoring with a holding, a false start and a delay of game sent the Blue Devils in the wrong direction.
The nail was put in the coffin one minute into the fourth quarter. Wayne County worked a seven minute, 76 yard drive and Pierce hit Shamar Taylor on a slant to give the home team a 21-7 lead.
The teams exchanged drives of stagnant offense and punts until Pierce took a final knee. After both teams walked through the handshake line, Statesboro head coach Jeff Kaiser started yelling at Roberson before leading the team into a sprint to the locker room.
At 3-3 and 0-1 in region, the Blue Devils will regroup before hosting Ware County next Friday.