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Swainsboro tops Devils in final seconds
SHS Football
Statesboro High defender Caleb Tisby, center, is bent over in disbelief as Swainsboro takes the lead on a touchdown run with 37 seconds left in the game on Friday, Sept. 3. Statesboro erased an early deficit and led for much of the night, but a late SHS turnover allowed Swainsboro to capitalize on its final scoring chance of the evening. Statesboro fell to 1-1 on the season.

Typically, in a game between a Class 6-A team and a Class 2-A team the smaller school will wear down and the bigger school will pull away. That was not the case Friday night at Womack Field as the Statesboro Blue Devils offense struggled and a late fumble put the defense in a bind resulting in the Tigers scoring with 37 seconds remaining to steal away a 15-10 victory from the Devils.

“Our defense played their butts off and our offense had two turnovers that both turned into touchdowns,” said Statesboro coach Jeff Kaiser. “Our offense did not come to play, and I take the blame for the loss for not having them ready.”

The Blue Devil offense sputtered the entire fourth quarter and facing third and long at their own 35 quarterback Kam Mikell was hit and fumbled. The ball was recovered by Swainsboro’s Ryan Gilmore with 2:25 left in the game on the Statesboro 34-yard line.

Tiger quarterback Ty Adams hit Demello Jones with a pass down to the Statesboro 15-yard line and then Qindarius Brown took off around the far sidelines for a 5-yard touchdown run to put Swainsboro up 13-10 with 37 seconds left. The Tigers missed the point after, but a roughing the kicker call and after accepting the penalty the Tigers elected to go for it and Jones took it in to extend the lead to 15-10. The Blue Devil offense was unable to convert, turning the ball over on downs and now fall to 1-1 on the season.

“The difference in the game was all we had to do was get a first down and we turned the ball over on third down,” said Kaiser. “That is the name of the game, if you turn the ball over you aren’t going to win.”

The Blue Devil’s unfortunately started the game the way they ended it. Kam Mikell made a nice 15-yar run but was stripped of the ball and Jakari Nobles recovered for the Tigers at their own 47-yard line. They would then march downfield on a 10-play 53-yard drive capped by an 8-yard touchdown run by Jones for a 7-0 Swainsboro lead with 35 seconds left in the first quarter,

Statesboro came back in the second quarter and after a 32-yard run by Jalin Mikell the drive would stall at the Swainsboro 5-yard line. Michael Crews connected on a 22-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 with 3:44 left in the half.

The Statesboro defense helped that score hold up with some nice plays as the Tigers got into Statesboro territory.

In the third the Blue Devils put together their lone touchdown drive. Kam Mikell picked up a pair of first downs including a 25-yard run down to the 5-yard line. Jalin Mikell then capped the drive with a touchdown run on the next play from scrimmage. Crews connected on the point after for a 10-7 Statesboro lead.

That was the end of the Statesboro offensive production as the Tigers shut them down the rest of the way. Statesboro ended the night with 153 total yards of offense and completed just one pass for 10 yards. Meanwhile Swainsboro had 239 yards of total offense including 68 through the air. The key stat was turnovers as Statesboro lost two fumbles and Swainsboro did not turn the ball over the entire game.

“We didn’t do much of all offensively,” said Kaiser. “That will change Monday. You either move forward or you move back, and we definitely took a step back tonight.”

Statesboro drops to 1-1 on the season while Swainsboro improves to 2-1 on the season. Statesboro will travel to Houston County next Friday.