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Statesboro High football starts with a big win
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Anyone that had been to a Statesboro game over the past four years was probably thinking the same thing late in Friday’s season opener against Greenbrier -- here we go again. But unlike the past four years, the Blue Devils were able to make a big play at the end of the game to win by a score of 7-3.

The Statesboro offense was unable to pick up a first down to run out the clock with just just over two minutes left in the game while leading 7-3. Greenbrier ran a sweep on its first play from scrimmage and it went for 20 yards to the Wolfpack 40 yard line.

With 1:27 left in the game, Xavier Lee picked off a Jackson Fulmer pass at the Statesboro 45 and returned it eight yards. Greenbrier was out of timeouts, and Statesboro was able to run out the clock for their first season-opening victory since 2013.

“I can’t lie, it crossed my mind that ‘here we go again’,” said Statesboro head coach Jeff Kaiser. “But I’m very proud of our kids for showing some resilience, and making a big play when they had to. We had Xavier in a good spot, and he made the interception to seal the deal.”

The story of the game was the Statesboro defense which allowed the Wolfpack only 104 total yards and seven first downs, while coming up with a crucial four turnovers.

“I can’t say enough about our defense, they really stepped up tonight,” Kaiser said. “They held Greenbrier in check throughout the game, created turnovers, and made the big plays when we needed it.”

The game started off slowly with neither team threatening in the first quarter, despite the Blue Devils coming up with their first of four turnovers on an interception at midfield my Michael Dixon.

In the second quarter the offense was finally able to take advantage of a Blue Devil turnover. Ames Rackleff picked off a Fulmer pass at the 37-yard line with 2:21 seconds left in the second quarter.

The offense was able to march downfield but had to convert on a fourth and six in order to keep the drive alive. Jaylen Robinson took the ball off the left side and pounded ahead for eight of his 101 yards rushing to the Greenbrier nine yard line.

On the very next play from scrimmage with 1:15 left quarterback Drake Horton walked into the end zone untouched, the extra point by Cody Parker was good, and Statesboro took a 7-0 halftime lead.

“That touchdown before the half was huge,” Kaiser said. “When you win the battle of the turnovers by two like we did you should win the game, and that touchdown came as a direct result of a forced turnover.”

The second half started with Statesboro’s defense creating another turnover as Sage Reece recovered a Wolfpack fumble on the Statesboro 35 yard line. The offense would give the ball right back though as they fumbled. One of only two Statesboro turnovers in the game.

Neither team threatened for the rest of the quarter and Statesboro took a 7-0 lead into the fourth quarter.

Early in the fourth Statesboro coughed the ball up again, and Greenbrier recovered on the Statesboro 35 yard line. Fulmer then hit Jaden Smith for an 18 pick up to the Statesboro 18 yard line.

The Blue Devil defense was able to hold from there and Greenbrier had to settle for a 29 yard Ben Thorpe field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 with 6:08 left in the game.

The Blue Devils were able to eat some clock on their ensuing drive as Corey McCullough ran for 11 yards, and then on second and nine, he picked up another first down to midfield, but the Statesboro offense sputtered from there and the Blue Devils were forced to punt with 2:25 seconds left in the game.

Lee was able to secure with the win with the Blue Devils third interception of the game, and the celebration began with the players mobbing Lee on the sidelines.

“I’m proud of these kids for learning from the past and being able to make plays when they had to,” Kaiser said. We are going to celebrate this tonight, but tomorrow it’s time to get ready for a good Liberty County team.”

Next up for Statesboro is its home opener against Liberty County next Friday at Womack Field.