Despite a rocky first half Friday, the Long County High School football team rallied in the second and beat Claxton High School in Evans County.
The Blue tied fell behind Claxton by two touchdowns in the first half of their last scrimmage of the year, but came back to beat the Tigers, 20-18.
In the first half the Blue Tide offense could muster little momentum. Claxton put up scores by Brandon Walker and Austin Beasley to go up 12-0.
With less than two minutes in the half, the Tigers looked like they were going to put the game away early as a Claxton defender picked off a pass by Blue Tide quarterback Brendon Scott and raced it to the Long County 2 yard line. But a stout Blue Tide defense forced a Tiger fumble and fell on the ball to give the offense one more chance before the half.
With the ball at their own 10, Scott lined up in the shotgun. But instead of looking for an open man, he tucked the ball away and ran 85 yards before being pushed out of bounds inside the Claxton 5. With 1.7 seconds left Scott handed the ball to Blue Tide running back Jaquarius Harrison who took it into the end zone as the half expired.
Brett Blake’s kick made the score 12-8 at the break.
In the second half, Long County got the ball first and began their drive at their own 20. The Blue Tide methodical moved the ball on the ground and in the air to the Tiger 25. Scott called his own number again and scampered into the end zone. Blake’s kick put the Blue Tide up, 14-12.
Claxton began their drive at their 25. But the Long County defense forced the Tigers to punt.
The Blue Tide offense again moved the ball to inside Claxton’s 5. With just over two minutes left Scott handed off to Harrison and the senior swept to the right for his second TD. On the conversion attempt, Blake pushed the ball to the right, but Long County was up by 8 with time running out.
The Tigers then stubbornly advanced. With 14 seconds left, Claxton scored. The Tiger offense lined up needing a 2-point conversion to tie the score.
But Long County’s defense held, tackling the running back on the 1 yard line after a hand off.
After the game, Long County coach Eric McNair was all smiles.
“We got better as the game went on, we fell behind, but dealt with the pressure and were able to come back and score on three consecutive drives,” McNair said. “The defense played well all night and really came up big with the goal line stand to win the game.”
He did say there is still a lot of areas that need improving.
“We need to work on our pad level on both sides of the ball, we need to sustain our blocks, and work on making our tackles,” he said.
Long County has two more weeks of practice before opening the season on Aug. 28 in Tattnall County, taking on the Battle Creek Warriors.
After the varsity game, the schools’ junior varsity squads played for a quarter with the Tigers narrowly outscoring the Blue Tide 8-6.