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Mistakes doom Long vs. Atkinson

POSTED: September 25, 2013 10:07 a.m.
Mike Riddle/

Despite Long County sophomore running back/kick returner Brendon Scott having a solid game Friday, the Blue Tide still lost to Atkinson County, 25-18 in overtime.

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Mistakes made the difference Friday as the Long County High School football team lost a heartbreaking game to Atkinson County, 25-18, in overtime.  
“Turnovers and penalties, they killed us — two big fumbles by us, a big run called back on a penalty, a pass interference call at the goal line,” Long County head coach Ron Flott said. “We just shot ourself in the foot too many times; we also didn’t wrap up on defense.”
Early on, things looked good for the Blue Tide after Brendon Scott returned the opening kickoff to the Rebels 49. After moving the ball to the 25, freshman quarterback Dylan Stewart handed the ball off to Vanda Vereen Jr., who raced in for the touchdown. The Blue Tide missed the extra point but still owned a 6-0 lead that lasted until halftime.  
In the second half, Atkinson County’s Tyree Johnson scored touchdowns on his team’s first two possessions for a 12-6 lead.
On the kickoff after the second score, Long County ran a reverse to Scott, and the sophomore raced to the Rebels 43. On the same play, Atkinson County was called for face-masking. After the penalty yardage was tacked on, the Blue Tide had the ball at the Rebels 23. Two plays later, Scott ran the ball in from three yards out. After a second failed conversion attempt, the score was knotted at 12-all. After the kickoff, the Rebels began their drive at their own 35-yard line. But after a big Blue Tide sack led by Nick Stock, Atkinson had to punt.  Long County took over possession of the ball near midfield. On the first play from scrimmage, Vereen ran the ball 51 yards in for the score.  Despite a third failed conversion attempt, the Blue Tide was back on top, 18-12. Atkinson got the ball back but couldn’t move it and was forced to punt again. Scott fielded the ball near the Blue Tide 40 and, with a wall of Tide defenders providing blocks, scampered 51 yards, giving Long County a first-and-goal opportunity at the Rebels 8. However, shortly after, Vereen coughed up the ball, and the Rebels took possession.  
After Long County also was charged with a huge unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty, Atkinson had the ball at its own 23. Taking advantage of the Blue Tide mistakes, the Rebels methodically moved the ball for a 77-yard touchdown drive to tie the game for a third time, when Johnson scored on a 22-yard run.
Fortunately for Long County, the visiting team also was struggling at converting their extra points, so after a failed attempt the score remained 18-18 with 49 seconds left.
After the kickoff, the Blue Tide had the ball back deep inside their own 20. Due to field position, they decided to be conservative and called two running plays to end regulation play and take the game in to overtime.
In the extra session, the Rebels took the first possession and scored when Johnson hit an open Deke Landers from 11 yards for a touchdown. After finally converting a point-after attempt, Atkinson County led by seven.  
The Blue Tide took possession of the ball at the 15 to see if they could tie or win. But the Rebel defense was stingy, only giving up five yards on Long County’s first three plays. On fourth down, Stewart took the snap, rolled out to his right and threw over Rebel defenders. But the pass fell incomplete.
“We have to be smarter at critical times, but they’re kids and they’re going to make mistakes,” Flott said. “I’m proud that they played hard on both sides of the ball.”  
The coach also praised his special teams and the individual effort of Vereen, Evan Strickland and Darius Francis.
With the Region 2-AA loss, the Blue Tide fell to 1-3 overall and 0-3 in the region. The Rebels improved to 1-3 and 1-2, respectively.
This Friday, Long County travels to Pembroke to face Bryan County (4-0) for another big region game. Pick up a Friday paper to read a preview on that contest, and to find out who was selected as the player of the week for the Blue Tide.

 

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