The Long County Blue Tide came into their most recent game on Friday, October 30 looking for their first win since September 6, 2019. It was a hard-fought battle, but the Tide’s fourth quarter rally fell just short as they lost to Brantley County 21-14.
The Tide and Herons both were 0-7 going into the game and needed a win if they wanted to keep their hopes of securing a state playoff berth, something Long County has never done in its 19-year history, alive.
Long County seemed to start off strong on their first drive of the game as just three plays in, freshman quarterback Zion Ervin hooked up with junior receiver Cameryn Johnson for a 62-yard catch-and-run down the opposite sideline to take the early 7-0 lead.
The Tide defense forced a punt on the next drive, thanks in part to sophomore defensive lineman Bryant Bleyman recording a big tackle for a two-yard loss.
Long County’s offense took over at their own nine yard line and looked to take advantage of the defense’s big stand. However, after gaining six on a run from their own 29, the Tide fumbled the ball as the Herons took over.
The defense came up with two big plays, including another tackle for loss by Bleyman and one by Johnson as well. The Herons went for the fourth down conversion from the Tide 32 and failed to pick up the needed 12 yards, giving the Tide offense the ball back.
The Tide took the ball down to the Brantley 22 on a long, 11-play drive that saw Johnson pick up nearly 30 yards through the air and on the ground. Long County had to settle for a 39-yard field goal from junior Chris Garcia, but it fell just short of the crossbar.
Teams traded punts as Dwayne Rowe booted a ball down to the one yard line. This is where the Herons made their biggest drive of the game.
The Herons were able to make some good plays and eventually found room on a long screen. They got helped with an extra 15 yards on a personal foul penalty. The Herons were able to get into the endzone from 27 yards out on the next play to tie the game up at 7.
The teams traded possessions for the rest of the quarter as the game was tied at 7 at the half.
The Herons got the ball to start the second half and were able to drive down inside the Tide ten before the defense came up with a big stop. They forced a field goal attempt by the Herons, but it was no good as the offense took over at their own 20.
The Herons came up with another stop and got the ball back at the 50 on a punt. They were able to pick up some big yards on short passes and drove all the way down to the three. They punched the ball in to take their first lead of the night at 14-7.
The Tide took over at their own 40 after the short kickoff and gained some decent yards on their first play. However, two plays later, another Tide fumble was returned by the Herons all the way down to the Tide 10 as the third quarter came to a close.
With a seven-point lead, the Herons looked to stretch their lead out as the fourth quarter began. It took them just four plays to find their way into the endzone to open up the 21-7 lead early in the quarter.
The teams traded possessions, with the Tide driving down inside the Brantley 35 at one point but turning the ball over on downs. The Tide finally got back on the board with just under two minutes left in the game.
On a hurry-up play, Ervin handed the ball off to junior running back Tony Phillips from 10 yards out. Phillips found room to run up the middle for his first touchdown of the year to make the score 21-14. This play was set up by Ervin making an incredible step up and throw to junior Davion Henderson for 36 yards.
The touchdown was just too late as the Tide were not able to recover the onside kick. With no timeouts, they could not stop the clock and the Herons snuck away with a seven-point win.
With the loss, Long County falls to 0-8 on the year, but hope is not completely lost for the Tide. They travel to top ten ranked Pierce County next week before having a week off and hosting the currently 0-7 Tattnall County Battle Creek Warriors in the regular season finale on November 20.
This game will be all important for the Tide as it will likely either be for the number four seed for Region 1-AAA in the state playoffs or to force a tie among the Warriors, Herons, and Tide.