The Ware County Gators fought till the end, but Wayne County held on to win the 2018 2-AAAAA Region Title in Jesup Friday night. The atmosphere was as good it can get. A packed house crowd watched two of the top ranked teams in 5A battle for 48 minutes as the Yellow Jackets broke a 21-21 tie late in the fourth quarter and then held off a hard charge by the Gators to seal the win.
The Gators forced the Yellow Jackets to a three and out on their first possession and then Thomas Castellanos hit Caleb Stewart down the seam for a 60 yard touchdown on Ware's first play from scrimmage. Robert Jacobs point after put the Gators in the lead 7-0. Wayne answered Ware's score when Ashley Cribb caught a 22 yard touchdown pass from Shamar Taylor but the point after failed leaving the Gators still up 7-6.
Following the Yellow Jacket score the Gators committed the first of three turnovers that proved to be the difference in the game. Kevonte Nix picked off a Castellanos pass setting up Wayne on the Ware 26 yard line. Kaylee Hadley made a diving catch from Taylor in endzone making the score 13-7. A Ware County penalty put the ball on the 1 1/2 yard line and the Yellow Jackets elected to go for two. M.J. Fuller's run put the Jackets up 14-7. The Yellow Jackets threatened again with just under a minute to go, but a Kevin Weatherspoon interception with just 10 seconds to go sent the game into the locker room with the Gators down by just a touchdown.
Wayne and Ware traded possessions to start the third quarter, but Ware put together an 8 play 71 yard drive that ended with a Castellanos to Charles Jones 39 yard touchdown pass. The point after by Jacobs tied the game with 3:23 left in the third quarter. Wayne answered the bell with a 66 yard touchdown run by Taylor. The point after put the Yellow Jackets up 21-14. Two costly turnovers in the fourth quarter included resulted in another touchdown for Wayne as they covered 48 yards in six plays as Taylor scored from one yard out. The extra point put the Jackets up 28-14 with 4:56 left o play.
The Gators kept fighting and drove 70 yards in 11 plays to cut the lead to 28-21 when Castellanos hit Jeremiah O'Hara with a 16 yard pass with 2:01 left. Jacobs point after was good. Ware forced a quick three and out and Wayne had to punt the ball back to the Gators but a quarterback sack ended hopes of Ware tying the game.
Players of the Week for the Wayne County Game are:
The Gators will host Riverdale in Round 1 of the GHSA State Football Playoffs Friday night in the Swamp. All General Admission tickets are set by the GHSA at $8.00 and can be purchased at the high school ticket office Monday-Thursday from 8:00 am - 1:00 pm and again on Friday from 8:00 am - 11:00 am. Tickets can also be purchased and downloaded to your smartphone by clicking on the ticket link below.
*RESERVED SEATS: Current reserved seat ticket holders can purchase their same seats MONDAY - WEDENESDAY for $15. All unclaimed reserved seat tickets will be released to the general public beginning Thursday morning.
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