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Canes and Firebirds tough it out for a tie pre-season game (21-21)
Hurricane running back Joseph Matavao (45) was the main rusher for the Hurricanes last Saturday night as they battled against the Waycross Firebirds. Matavao barreled through a bunch of Firebirds for one of the Hurricane’s touchdowns. The game ended in a 21-21 tie. - photo by By Patty Leon / Coastal Courier
The sky was clear, the weather cool, but you could see the steam coming off the helmets as the Hinesville Hurricanes and the Waycross Firebirds strapped on their football gear to open the semi-pro league’s pre-season game at the Gator Bowl on Fort Stewart Saturday night.
Both teams battled during a scoreless first quarter. The haphazard offense on both sides made it evident that both offenses were working to clear the cobwebs accumulated over the long off-season.
While the players gathered their mojo a series of penalties and turnovers kept both teams at bay.
The first score came as Firebird quarterback Shalom Davis was poised to get a first down as the ‘Birds found their rhythm. But Hurricane corner Charles Crossings had other plans, he crossed in front of the ‘Bird receiver for the interception and the Hurricanes first touchdown.
The ‘Canes missed the point after and were leading 6-0.
The Firebirds quickly answered and, with the ball on the 4-yard line, ‘Bird Dornell Baker carried one in for the TD. They also missed the PAT, tying the game.
The Hurricanes started another offensive series but were unable to cross the goal. They went for a field goal to close the half with a 9-6 lead.
The ‘Canes’ defense opened the third quarter with another interception by Travis Dayton and running back Joseph Matavao kept pounding away at the yards. But a Firebird defender deflected a touchdown pass in the end zone.
The ‘Canes lined up for a field goal, but it was blocked and Kenny Norton carried it all the way for another Firebird touchdown. After missing the PAT, the ‘Birds were ahead 13-9.
Late in the fourth an interception by Dayton allowed Matavao to barrel through the centerline for another ‘Canes score. Missing yet another PAT, it was 15-13 Hurricanes.
Dayton brought in another Hurricane touchdown and with 2 minutes left in the game it appeared the Hurricanes were poised to win it 21-13.
Firebird running back Alexander Lacey was supposed to be the standout performer for the night but it was Deon Turner who stole the show with a 68-yard run for a Firebird touchdown with 1:30 left on the clock making it 21-19.
The Firebirds lined up and scored the 2-point conversion and closed the first action packed pre-season game with a 21-21 tie.
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