Reeling from back-to-back region losses, the Statesboro Blue Devils got just what the doctor ordered Friday night at Womack Field. The Blue Devils rolled up over 500 yards of offense, and while the defense did give up just over 300 yards, they made plays when they had to, and Statesboro claimed their first region victory of the season 34-16 over Bradwell.
“This was a game in which I felt we grew some,” said Statesboro Coach Jeff Kaiser. “For the first quarter and half of the second I felt really good. We looked like trash the second half of the second quarter. We were calm at halftime and I felt we controlled the entire second half.”
On Homecoming night senior Ames Rackleff should have been crowned king. Rackeff passed for 191 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 45 yards and another score, in accounting for four of the five Statesboro touchdowns.
“Ames is a winner, whether he wins the game or not he’s a competitor,” said Kaiser. “He is focused, he loves to play, and he does it for the right reasons, and that is why he is the quarterback.”
The Blue Devils also had two running backs go over 100 yards for the first time in quite a while. Jaylin Mikell backed up a 126 yard performance at Brunswick by rushing for 159 yards and a touchdown, while Aundrell Grace added 118 yards on 13 carries.
The only area in which the Blue Devils had their issues was with penalties. Statesboro was flagged 11 times for over 100 yards, and while Coach Kaiser wasn’t happy with that he felt many of those came with good intentions.
“We had a few too many penalties, and that is something we will have to clean up,” said Kaiser. “I do feel like many of those were aggressive penalties so I won’t hammer them too hard on that, because they are playing hard.”
The Blue Devils started the scoring quickly as Jaylin Mikell took off down the sidelines for a 60-yard touchdown. Cody Parker’s extra point made it 7-0 with 8:49 to go in the first.
The Blue Devils would go for it later on fourth and goal from the eight, but a draw play was unsuccessful. In the second quarter Statesboro unveiled a new weapon as Rackleff hit receiver Ford Wildes across the middle for a 22-yard touchdown pass, and a 14-0 Blue Devil lead.
Bradwell came back in the second to add a 25-yard Patrick Logan field goal, and then tacked on a 1-yard Michael Prince touchdown to close the gap to 14-10 at the half.
In the second half Rackleff was able to get things started. After a couple penalties backed Statesboro up. Rackleff hit Will Yawn for a 38-yard pickup to the Bradwell 10. Two plays later Rackleff went 7-yards for the touchdown, the extra point failed and it was 20-10 Blue Devils.
On the ensuing kickoff the Tigers Tre’veon Jackson caught the ball on his own 18-yard line, and proceeded to weave his way through the Blue Devils and found some room outside to go 72-yards for the score to quickly get Bradwell back to within striking distance at 20-16.
The rest of the game belonged to the Blue Devils. After a couple of holding calls backed them up to the Bradwell 23 Rackleff hit Wildes in stride at midfield, and Wildes outran the Tiger defense for a 77-yard touchdown to put Statesboro on top 27-16.
In the fourth Rackleff provided the finishing touch as he rolled to his right and then flung the ball to Tim Taylor, who shed a tackle and finished off the 34-yard touchdown for the final points of the game.
“I’m proud of the kids as we really needed to pull our way out of a funk we were in,” said Kaiser. “Our postseason hopes are still alive. We are going to have a good time with this one for a day or two, and then Monday it’s all business.”
Statesboro improves to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in region play. Next up the Blue Devils travel to Guyton to take on South Effingham next Friday night. Bradwell falls to 04-1 and will travel to Effingham County Friday.