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Wayne County pulls away from Statesboro late
SHS Football
SHS linebacker A.J. Eason strips Wayn County running back Derek Jordan during the second quarter of Friday's game in Jesup. The Blue Devils played the Yellow Jackets close for most of the night, but ran out of gas late as Wayne County scored three unanswered touchdowns in the final quarter to walk away with a 28-7 victory over Statesboro. - photo by JOSH AUBREY

Statesboro and Wayne County both had to try and overcome injuries Friday night in Jesup. The Jackets lost starting quarterback Jeb Craven in the first quarter, and after starting the game Statesboro lost quarterback Bruce Yawn early in the second quarter. Arguably the biggest loss for the Blue Devils was starting center and long snapper Mathis Lanier who left with a serious arm injury in the second quarter. The two teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 7-7 but the Jackets outscored Statesboro 21-0 in the fourth as they picked up a 28-7 victory dropping Statesboro to 1-3 on the season. 

“We didn’t generate enough offense to keep our defense off the field particularly in the second half,” said Kaiser. “Injuries didn’t help us but we have to look long and hard on what’s happening with our offense and try to come back and keep our defense off the field so much.” 

With an extra week to prepare Statesboro High head coach Jeff Kaiser started sophomore Bruce Yawn at quarterback but after a fairly ineffective start Yawn was thrown to the ground in the second quarter and missed the rest of the game with what appeared to be a concussion. Lanier was helped off the field late in the second quarter and the reason this loss was twice as costly as Lanier was the starting long snapper and Yawn was his backup. Without the two of them in the game Statesboro was severely hamstrung and it proved costly. 

Statesboro opted to go with Kam Mikell punting from the shotgun where he netted 10-yards on his first punt and 4-yards on his second one. 

“Losing both deep snappers really put us in a bind,” said Kaiser. “We tried something we tried before but really hadn’t practiced it and that hurt us as well."

The Jackets started the scoring in the first quarter on a nice mix of pass and runs by Craven and Matthew Fuller. Fuller ended up going in from 4-yards out as the Yellow Jackets grabbed a 7-0 lead. In the second quarter Kaiser inserted Kam Mikell at quarterback and after driving to the 14-yard line Kaiser went for it on fourth and 13 and Mikell tossed the ball up for James Flagg who leapt high over the two Wayne County defenders to haul in the score and tie the game at 7-all. 

Statesboro missed a 42-yard Michael Crews field goal just wide left, and Wayne County missed a 42-yard Davis Tanner field goal which hit off the uprights and the teams went into the locker room tied at 7-7.  

The defense was able to keep the Jackets at bay in the third quarter and managed to hold the Jackets on three different fourth down attempts in the game. The two teams played a scoreless third and went to the fourth tied at 7-7. Early in the fourth quarter after penalties pushed Statesboro back to the 16-yard line Jordan Lovett was forced to try a punt and it wound up going only one-yard. Wayne County finally took advantage of the short field as Matthew Fuller scored on an 8-yard touchdown as Wayne County grabbed a 14-7 lead. 

From there things went downhill quickly for the Blue Devils. After another three-and-out coach Kaiser brought punter Avery Newton in to punt from the shotgun on fourth and long. Newton got off a great 44-yard kick pinning Wayne County on their own 24-yard line. On the very next play Fuller took off around the far sidelines and went virtually untouched 76-yards for the touchdown as the Jackets went up 21-7.  

After taking over at their own 22-yard line Jordan Lovett took off down the sidelines and outraced the Jackets before finally being tripped up at the 8-yard line. A procedure penalty backed the Blue Devils up and then after a couple of running attempts went nowhere Kam Mikell tried to hook up with Payton Wedlow in the end zone, but the ball was underthrown and picked off by Dra Fullbright who went 99-yards for the final points of the game and a 28-7 Wayne County lead. 

Statesboro falls to 1-3 while first year head coach and former Georgia Southern quarterback Jaybo Shaw improves to 3-1 with the Jackets. Up next Statesboro hosts Burke County this Friday at 7:30 at Womack Field.