Swainsboro steps UP to bring DOWN Appling

A satisfying season continued for the Tigers Friday night as they stepped up late in the game to defeat region rival Appling County. The series count between the two teams now stands at 2-2 in the last four meetings.

Until this game, theTigers had not beaten the Pirates of Appling County since the State Championship campaign in 2000.

The Halloween game began on a short Appling County kickoff that was fielded by Neal David and returned for an impressive gain. The Tigers went to work but were unsuccessful on their attempts to get into the end zone in the first quarter. Appling recorded four first downs in the first quarter, but ended the first quarter with no points to show for their efforts.

In the scoring department the second quarter was no different than the first, neither team was able to find the end zone. The stingy Tiger defense allows less than a touchdown per game and did not allow a single yard on the ground in the second quarter. Swainsboro's Albert Webb rushed for 50 yards in the first half.

The Tigers came into the game confident they could let the air out of the Pirates attack. After the first half, the scoreboard was blank, Coach Williamson and his staff were not pleased with the Tigers' performance. A few half-time adjustments proved to be what the "Wreckin' Crew" and the Tigers "Pain Train" needed.

Swainsboro allowed Appling County's Chris Reed to score on a 30-yard scamper and with the good extra point the Tigers were behind 7-0 with 10:33 left in the third quarter. Most would agree that what happened next changed the outcome of Friday's game. Quarterback/Kicker Cason DeVane took the snap on the first play of the Tigers' second drive in the third quarter and went back to pass. No one was open for DeVane to throw to so he tucked the ball and tried to make something happen on his own. DeVane carried the ball from the Tigers own 42-yard line into the opposing end zone for a touchdown. The extra point was good and the Tigers had fired back and tied the score at 7 points each.

With 7:44 second left in the final quarter of play and the score still tied at 7-7, Appling County got into field goal range and connected on a 34-yard kick that put the Pirates ahead 10-7. When the Tigers' undefeated season appeared to be nearing its end, the "Pain Train" managed to drive downfield and regain the lead on a 3-yard run by J.J. "The Bus" Nobles. DeVane's extra point was good. With the score close at 14-10 in favor of the Tigers and the game clock inside the four minute mark, Coach Williamson knew one more score would ice the victory.

Appling was beginning to threaten the Tiger end zone once again when senior linebacker Tavares Jones pulled a Pirate pass from the air and returned it to the Appling 12-yard line. Webb took care of the rest and took the ball 12 yards into the end zone for a Tiger touchdown. DeVane's extra point was good and Swainsboro had regained a suitable lead 21-10.

The Tigers held on to their 21-10 lead as the Pirates took possession and were forced to run four plays and turn the ball over on downs. DeVane took a knee on the ball for the third time this season as Tiger fans released a sigh of relief and watch the clock tick to 0:00.

Webb led the Tigers in the rushing column again last week. He recorded 108 yards on 20 carries for an average of 5.4 yards per carry and one touchdown. Leon Williams took four carries for 19 yards and an of 4.8 yards per carry. Nobles had three carries for 20 yards averaging 6.5 yards per carry and a touchdown.

Justin Moore led the Tigers in receiving, he caught one pass for 16 yards and a key Swainsboro first down. Tavares Jones led the Tiger defense with eight solo tackles and seven assists. Jones recorded two fumble recoveries and an interception. Justin Moore had eight solos and five assists. Raja Andrews recorded 7 solo tackles and five assists. Leery Ball had five solo tackles and five assists. David Johnson tallied up five solo tackles and three assists.

Ashley Denney punted six times with an average

of 30 yards per punt. With only two games remaining on the Tigers regular season schedule, the playoffs are nearing. Swainsboro now stands as the number one ranked team in region 2AAA and the number two ranked team in the Atlanta Journal Constitution's class AAA state poll. The Tigers will take their odd 6-0-2 record down to South Effingham High School where they will face the Mustangs. South Effingham defeated the Tigers in heartbreaking fashion last season 16-14. The game is set for Friday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 pm. --

( Statistics courtesy of Jerry Lawson, Jerry Lawson Jr. and Danny "The Stat Cat" Henry.)

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