LUDOWICI -- The Long County Lady Blue Tide flag football team has had an incredible inaugural season as they have racked up eight wins and clinched a spot in the state playoffs.
However, on Senior Night, they ran into the buzzsaw that is the Southeast Bulloch Lady Jackets, dropping their first home game of the season 33-7.
The Jackets came into the game 12-0, ranked second in the state, having already won the Area 3 championship, and outscoring their opponents 311-46.
Southeast Bulloch quickly showed why they are one of the best teams in the state as they backed the Tide up to their five after a loss on first down and a false start on the next.
Tide sophomore quarterback Kyleigh Sizemore has been very consistent for her team this year, but her first pass of the night was tipped and intercepted and nearly returned for a touchdown.
The Lady Tide defense were backed up to their own goal line and held strong, forcing a fourth down attempt from the five. The Yellow Jackets were able to find room on an option play as they took the 7-0 early in the game.
Sizemore and her team took a shot on the first play of the next drive as she looked for her favorite target, fellow sophomore Amiyah Simpkins, down the Tide sideline. The pass was just a little out of reach of Simpkins, who had more than a step on the Yellow Jacket defense.
The Tide were forced to punt as the Jackets took over at the Tide 39. They picked up 24 yards over the next two plays and faced a first and goal from the 15.
The Jackets found an open receiver near the endzone and took advantage, going up 14-0 with 12 minutes left in the half.
The Lady Tide were once again forced to punt, and Adryanna Harley’s punt bounced to the SEB 35 but was picked up and returned inside the Tide 30 to the 27.
The Jackets picked up 11 yards on the first down run and eventually faced another fourth and goal from the nine. The ball was heaved to the back of the endzone where a host of Jacket and Tide players were.
The jump ball came down in the hands of a Jacket receiver near the back line of the endzone as the visiting team increased their lead to 21-0 late in the half.
It took four possessions, but the Tide finally picked up their first first down of the night when senior Makayla Raimer found nine yards to the 23 but was just one missed stop away from breaking a long run.
As the team approached the one-minute warning, Senior Ke’Osha McKeever found some running room, but was stopped shy of the first down at the 25. The Jackets took over from there with just under a minute left.
The Jackets went immediately to work, tossing a pass to the endzone and connecting to go up 27-0. The pass was caught by a diving receiver on an impressive play.
The Tide looked to get something going before halftime as McKeever took the direct snap and found a receiver on a slant over the middle. However, the Jackets made a great play on the ball and pulled down their second interception of the night, but this one ended in a score as the Tide went into halftime trailing 33-0.
The Tide defense held strong on the first drive of the second half, forcing a punt to their own 25. Their offense could not get it rolling, though, as they were forced to go for it on fourth down from the 30 and turned it over from there.
The Jackets took over in great field position and looked to increase their lead, but McKeever had other plans. She came up with a big sack at the 16 and the Jackets turned the ball over on downs.
The Tide finally got their offense going as they crossed midfield for the first time in the game. Sizemore hit McKeever for a seven-yard gain to their own 28 and then hit Simpkins for a big 29-yard gain to the Jacket 23.
McKeever picked up another 12 yards to the 11 and set up a first and goal. Samaria Harris took a handoff to the six and the Tide finally hit paydirt as Sizemore found a diving Jada Young in the endzone to make the final score 33-7.
With the loss, the Tide fall to 8-2 on the year and can clinch the two seed in the area standings with two wins over Beach and Johnson on Wednesday, November 17 in their season finale.
With how the playoffs are set up for flag football, even with the number two seed the Tide will be on the road for the first and second round of the playoffs.
The Lady Tide will likely matchup with Swainsboro in the first round on November 30, but the game will either be played at Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula or The Mount Vernon School in Atlanta.
The second round, should the Tide advance, will be played on the same day against the winner of the other game in that bracket.