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Blue Tide falls to Appling County 38-28
MR Defense
Held strong: The Blue Tide defense held the Appling County Pirates to just 3 points in the second half, but it was too late. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle
The Long County Blue Tide football team couldn’t overcome early mistakes in their game against Appling County that led them to their first loss of the season, 38-28.
Playing at Veterans Stadium in Ludowici, the Blue Tide team had high expectations coming into the game against the Pirates. Being 3-0, their confidence was high and, with it being their first region game, it was indeed a big one.
The Blue Tide team won the coin toss, and head Coach Kyle Wilson decided to take the ball in the second half. When kicker Danielle Bailey kicked off, Appling return man B.J. Miller caught the ball at his own 30-yard line and raced the length of the field to put the Pirates up 6-0. After the conversion, the score was 7-0.
The Pirates kicked off, and the Tide started their first drive on their own 35-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Justin Boyd went back to throw a short screen pass, but the ball was picked off by the defense.  Appling had the ball again, and drove down the field to score. After the PAT, the Pirates were up, 14-0, and neither team had broken a sweat.
After this, both teams went back and forth with possessions until the Long County team got the ball on their own 21-yard line.
On the first down, Boyd hit wide-out Ricky Rivera for a 45-yard completion, and the Tide was back in business on the Pirate 34-yard line. After a run for no gain, facing a second-and-10 situation, Boyd went back again, and this time hit Paul Lewandoski for the score. After the Bailey conversion, the Tide had narrowed the gap to seven.
On the next two Appling possessions, the Pirates scored with runs by Javon James, and the visitors had extended their lead to 28-7.
As the Tide returned the kick-off to their own 15-yard line, it appeared to be over for the team. But a long methodical drive - mixing up the run and the pass - put Long County at the Appling County 17-yard line with a minute and a half left in the second period.
On a first-and-10 situation, Boyd went back for a pass, but decided to keep the ball and scampered off tackle for the score. After a failed extra point, the score was Tide, 13, and the Pirates, 28, with 1:12 left in the first half.
When the Tide kicked off, the Pirates drove down to the Long County five-yard line. With a second left in the half, Miller hit pay dirt again, and at the end of two quarters, the Tide was down 13-35.
While the Pirates dominated the first half, the second half belonged to Long County.
Appling repeatedly made mistakes and the Blue Tide defense tightened up, resulting in the Pirates only being able to score three points on a Matt Smith field goal.
But the Blue Tide team wouldn’t say die. They put up 14 more points with a run by Prince Moody in the third period and a second touchdown reception by Lewandoski in the final period, narrowing the score to 28-38.
In the game, Boyd completed 15 passes on 29 attempts for 237 yards with 1 interception and 2 touchdowns. He also carried the ball for 105 yards and had 1 rushing touchdown.
Lewandoski had the 2 touchdowns and 51 yards receiving, while Rivera had 9 receptions for 132 yards.
The Tide had a scare in the final period, when offensive lineman JR Fuller went down with an injury, and had to be carried to the hospital by the EMS unit.  After an examination, he was released form the hospital the same night, with apparent back spasms. His status for this week’s game is unknown.
Despite losing, all the coaches were pleased with the effort of the team and expressed their pride after the game.
“Defense, you showed great heart out there tonight. We can’t spot any team 14 points. That’s just too much. But they had a lot of three and outs in the second half, and you held them to only three points. Good job. Monday, we go back to work,” defensive coordinator DeShon Brock said.
Wilson said, “We beat them 14-3 in the second half. I can’t ask for anymore than you did in the second half. I’m proud of you.”
“Next week, we play the toughest team we’ll face. We have to play four complete quarters against them. There are six games left, so the season is no way over,” he said.
The Tide will travel to Folkston on Friday to take on the three-peat state champs, the Charlton County Indians (3-0).
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