The Ware County Gators defeated the Statesboro Blue Devils on the road Friday night 35-21 and moved to 1-0 in Region 2AAAAA play. The Gators will host the South Effingham Mustangs Friday night in the Swamp. The toughness of the Gators non region schedule paid it's first dividend against the Blue Devils as they rolled up their sleeves and put the game away after Statesboro tied the score at 21-21 in the third. The victory was the second straight win for the Gators who are now tied for first in the Region with three games to go.
Region 2-AAAAA Standings
|Wayne County||1-0||1.000||13||9||5-1||0.833||154||85||1 W|
|Ware County||1-0||1.000||35||21||2-4||0.333||103||142||2 W|
|New Hampstead||2-0||1.000||52||42||5-2||0.714||198||139||3 W|
|South Effingham||0-2||0.000||16||26||0-8||0.000||107||265||8 L|
Game Story is compliments of Rick Head, Sports Editor of the Waycross Journal Herald:
The Gators spotted Statesboro a quick 7-0 lead when Shupac Lanier (nine carries, 160 yards) darted 59 yards for a score six plays into the game. The touchdown came on a third-and-three play ending a 78-yard drive with 9:10 showing on the clock. Caleb Dowden kicked the PAT. "They (Blue Devils) ran the same play three times and he (Lanier) had big runs on each," Stephens said. "On the last one (36-yard touchdown) he just kept his feet moving and came out of wad at the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-one. I saw that ability when we're breaking down film." Ware responded with touchdowns on its first three possessions of the night. The Gators moved 80 yards in six plays with Jordan Turner's (four carries, 46 yards) 25-yard run on a jet sweep around right end providing the points. Bradley got his night started with a 12-yard burst on his first carry and 17-yard effort on his second to ignite the drive. Victor Steedley converted the first of his five PATs tying the score at 7-all.
Following a three-and-out by the SHS offense and a short 20-yard punt, Ware County capitalized on the short field position. The Gators moved 43 yards in six plays scoring on Bradley's 10-yard run with 6:56 to play in the opening stanza for a 14-7 advantage. The touchdown was set up by Bradley's 21-yard run on the speed option one play prior. Romello Jenkins' diving interception on the Blue Devils' first snap after the ensuing kickoff gave Ware County possession at the Statesboro 37. The Gators needed eight plays to cover the distance scoring on a 25-yard pass from O'Hara to Hendrix on fourth-and-15 on the second play of the second period. Ware County's defense continued to bottle up the Blue Devils in the second stanza finishing the half allowing just 105 yards, 46 without Lanier's big run. The Gators' offense, however, was unable to overcome a plethora of penalties (seven for 84 yards) on their final two possessions of the half. Their fourth series of the night consumed 4:41 of clock time. Ware managed 48 yards on nine plays and was flagged four times for 39 yards. "I was proud of us keeping our heads with the adversity we faced in the first half," said Stephens. "I was also proud of the defense coming up with two interceptions in the first half and a fumble recovery in the second. The turnovers came at the right time.
For the second week in a row, the Blue Devils overcame a halftime deficit. Statesboro trailed New Hampstead 27-7 last week before a 28-point uprising turned the game into a 35-27 lead. This time, the Blue Devils scored 14 quick points tying the game at 21- all. "We could have rolled over in the third quarter and went to pieces when they tied the score," said Stephens. "The offense came out on the next series and put together a long drive for a touchdown, the defense got a stop and we scored again. That's the toughness we need and it came from playing a tough schedule." Ware County stumbled out of the gate to start the second half. The offense went three-and-out on its opening possession. Statesboro followed with a quick, two-play scoring drive. Lanier ripped off a 57-yard run on the first snap with Drayton Marsh following with a two-yard plunge on the ensuing snap. Dowden's PAT closed the gap to 21-17 with 9:30 to play in the third.
The Gators turned the ball over, its only miscue of the night, on their second possession with Statesboro recovering at the Ware County 45. After three plays netted nine yards, Lanier took the fourth-down handoff bursting 36 yards for the touchdown. Dowden tied the score at 21-all with 6:16 remaining in the period. Ware finally found a rhythm on its third possession of the second half going to the hurry-up offense. The Gators marched 80 yards in 12 plays eating up 4:43 of the clock scoring the go-ahead touchdown on a one-yard sneak by O'Hara. Bradley carried on seven of the 12 plays gaining 44 yards. The big play was a six-yard shuffle pass from holder Acy Paulk to Trey Cobb on a fake field goal attempt from the Statesboro nine. Ware County needed three plays to punch the ball in from the three in taking a 28-21 lead with 1:33 left in the third quarter. The Gators sealed the victory two series later after Statesboro turned the ball over on downs at the Ware County 34. A seven-play drive followed in the opposite direction with Bradley doing the honors from three yards out with 5:38 to play for a two-touchdown advantage.
Advance tickets for Friday Night's game can be purchased at First Southern Bank, J. Green & Company Jewelers, the Central Board Office and the high school ticket office Tuesday - Thursday from 8:00 am - 1:00 pm and again on Friday from 8:00 am - 11:00 am and online at www.warecountygators.net for just $7 by CLICKING HERE. All tickets at the gate are $9.
This story sponsored by our friends at Gibson Animal Clinic: