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Harlem blanks Long County
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The Long County Blue Tide had one big goal in mind coming into the 2022 season: #Play12. After experiencing the postseason for the first time in 2021, the next step was to experience a postseason win, but it will have to wait until 2023.

On Saturday, the Tide traveled three hours to Harlem to face off against the Region 4-AAA champion Harlem Bulldogs. The Bulldogs top-ranked defense held the Tide in check as they fell 35-0.

Harlem, now 10-1, advances to host Carver-Columbus, a 39-0 winner over Upson-Lee. Long County’s season ends at 6-5.

The Bulldogs had allowed 11 points per game throughout the 2022 season and recorded two shutouts. They showed just why they were region champions as they kept the Tide from making big plays for the majority of the first three quarters.

Harlem opened the scoring with a 20-yard touchdown pass a minute and a half into the second quarter for a 7-0 lead.

The Tide were hit with their second pass interference call near the endzone on the third play of the quarter. From the 20, the Bulldogs found an open man to the endzone as they took a 7-0 lead a minute and a half into the second.

The Tide again were forced to punt but arguably the biggest game changer of the night happened on special teams.

Steven Wyatt punted down to the Bulldog 45-yard line and the ball bounced around before hitting a Bulldog player on the foot. There was an immediate scramble for the ball as the Tide recovered at the Bulldog 30.

However, after a long discussion, the referees determined that because the player was pushed into the ball, while blocking a Blue Tide player, that it was a dead ball.

The Bulldogs took over from their own 47 and immediately got a 32-yard run to the Tide 32. Just a few plays later, the Bulldogs were in the endzone again as they went up 14-0 with 6:30 left in the half.

Harlem would get one more shot in the half as they took over at the 11. They drove to their 40 before Keshawn Smith made a big play to snag a diving interception at the 35.

The second half opened as well as the Tide could have hoped as Ahmari Douglas returned the second half kickoff 95 yards for the score. However, another penalty against the Tide negated the touchdown as the Tide took over at their own 25.

The Tide were hit with their fourth pass interference call of the night, matching their season total for the foul.

This put the Bulldogs at the 15 and they scored on a quarterback run on the next play as they went up 21-0.

This play seemed to take the air out of the stadium for the Tide as their offense continued to struggle. A punt gave the Bulldogs the ball at their own 46 and a big pass set them up at the 1 as they punched in another score to go up 28-0 with 5:20 left in the third.

The Tide finally got some life as Douglas got a big run from their own 32 to the Bulldog 46 for 22 yards. Zion Ervin then hit Joe Saddler with a long pass to the 11.

Douglas got the call on the next play and was seemingly down to the 2-yard line. The ball came loose as he hit the ground and the Bulldogs recovered there as the third quarter came to a close.

The Tide could not get it rolling again as another fumble killed their next drive and an interception in the endzone kept them off the scoreboard again. The Bulldogs added another score in the final two minutes on a 65-yard run as they went on to win 35-0.

The Tide set a school record for wins in a season and finished with the program’s first winning record.

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