The Long County Blue Tide were looking to open
their home portion of the 2018 football season in a positive way. However, the
Tide were held at bay on the scoreboard as the Wayne County Yellow Jackets flew
past Long County 49-0 on Friday, Aug. 24.
The Blue Tide invited the defending Region 2-AAAAA champions to Veterans’ Stadium and the Yellow Jackets brought 1,500-plus fans along with them, which made for a packed house in Ludowici. The Jackets struck the Tide quickly as they took the opening kickoff down to the Long County 30-yard line and found the endzone just a few plays later with MJ Fuller plunging in from four yards out to give his team the 7-0 lead early.
The Tide’s offense struggled to get much going as they went three and out and were forced to punt. The Jackets took advantage of a short punt as they set up shop at the 44 yard line.
Quarterback Shamar Taylor found receiver Trevin Wallace for 24 yards to the Tide 20 yard line. The Jackets seemed poised to punch another early score into the endzone before the Tide forced a fumble, which was recovered by sophomore linebacker E’ben Thomas.
The Tide started to work time off the clock while moving down the field. Their drive was helped by a defensive pass interference penalty against Wayne County and a couple of good runs by Kendall Lovett and Treyon Davis.
The Tide were inching towards midfield and picked a lot of yards on a Lovett run, but a clipping penalty set them back in their own territory. The Tide were eventually forced to punt, but they caught a big break as the Jackets muffed the punt and Long County recovered it at the Wayne 43 yard line.
All of a sudden, it seemed as though a Tide upset of Wayne County, who were ranked 14 in the Maxwell preseason rankings, was a slightly bit more possible. The first quarter ended with the Tide trailing only 7-0 and that was just enough to fire up the Yellow Jackets.
The Tide turned the ball over on downs in Wayne County territory, but the defense forced the Jackets to punt on the next drive. The Tide held the ball in their own territory and their offense was not able to drive very far.
Long County sent their punt unit on the field for the third time, but it was a bad snap on the punt that seemed to be the switch turning on for the Jackets.
Wayne County took over on downs and had the ball at the Tide 34. Taylor hit receiver Ashby Cribb down to the Tide 14 and Fuller found his way into the endzone again from six yards out. The two-point conversion gave the Jackets a 15-0 lead with 8:25 left in the first half.
The Tide faced another three and out and punted to the Jackets 45. Wayne used two big plays to move inside the redzone. Cribb went to quarterback and his pass seemed to be intercepted by Lovett, who had a clear lane to the opposite endzone ahead of him. However, it slipped through his hands and into the hands of a Jacket receiver in the touchdown, giving Wayne County a 21-0 lead midway through the quarter.
The Tide’s offensive troubles continued on the next drive as they fumbled on their own 35. The Jackets recovered and just a few plays later, running back Victor Andrews found his way into the endzone from four yards out, giving the Jackets a 28-0 advantage.
Long County was looking to just get into the locker room at halftime, but they were forced to punt with just seconds left on the board. The Jackets got the ball at the Tide 38 with less than a second on the clock. Cribb found a man in the endzone on a Hail Mary pass to give Wayne County a 34-0 lead at the break.
The Tide came out with a running clock in the second half, but the Yellow Jackets did not let up. The Tide were forced to punt on their first possession of the second half and the Jackets returned it 55 yards for the score, giving Wayne County a 41-0 lead.
Lovett used his athleticism to find room on the ensuing kickoff return as he pushed to the Wayne 48. A late hit penalty pushed the ball the deepest the Tide had been all night as they set up shop at the Jacket 33.
The Tide seemed to have trotted inside the ten-yard line, but a holding penalty ripped the Tide faithful’s hearts out. Long County was pushed back to the Wayne 43 and the Tide were only able to get back to the 28 before turning the ball over on downs.
Time ticked down as the Jackets were up 41-0 at the end of the third. The Jackets were able to add one more touchdown and a safety on a strange play late in the game to make the final score 49-0.
The Blue Tide fall to 0-2 on the year and will look to get their first win in over two years Friday, Aug 31 as they travel to Pembroke to face off against Bryan County, a team with which the Tide has a storied 13-game history.