Coming into the final regular season game of 2020, the Long County Blue Tide football team had a chance to make history as they needed to defeat the Tattnall County Battle Creek Warriors by at least six points to make the state playoffs for the first time ever. However, early turnovers doomed the Tide from the start as the Warriors never looked back from a 47-10 win.
The Warriors opened the game on offense in good field position from their own 35 after the opening Tide kickoff went out of bounds. The Warriors got into Tide territory in just two plays after a 14-yard run on an outside run.
Tattnall County faced a fourth down and short from the Tide 40 and a hole opened up in the middle as they picked up nine yards and a first down to the 31. Senior linebacker Malachi Alberic came up with a tackle for a loss on the next play and the Warriors could not recover from that as they only picked up three yards and were forced to punt.
The Tide offense took over from their own 18 and their first play went about as bad as they could have hoped it would. Freshman quarterback Zion Ervin’s pass was intercepted by Warrior Shavar Carter, who returned the interception 27 yards for the touchdown, making the score 7-0 with just over six minutes left in the first quarter.
Ervin, however, then led the Tide’s new look, up-tempo offense on an impressive drive down the field, even after a false start penalty backed them up another five yards.
The freshman found junior Dwayne Rowe over the middle and the receiver, arguably the Tide’s best player, made some athletic moves and broke open a long run. After his zigging and zagging, Rowe had picked up 36 yards, all the way to his team’s 40 yard line.
Ervin’s next pass was complete to junior Cameryn Johnson, who fought for another 10 yards to the midfield logo. Another completion to yet another junior, this time Davion Henderson, went for 20 yards to the Tattnall 30 and a horsecollar tackle added another 15 yards to the end of the run.
The Tide got another five yards thanks to a fourth straight completion as Ervin hit Rowe on an out route. Ervin’s fifth pass of the drive fell just shy of Johnson’s reach near the endzone and a called jet sweep, the Tide’s first run of the game, lost a few yards.
The Tide faced a fourth and seven from the 12 and called on junior kicker Chris Garcia for the field goal attempt, his third of the season. The kick was good from 29 yards out as the score now stood at 7-3 with just over three minutes left in the first quarter.
Another long run down the Warrior sideline set Tattnall County up inside the Tide 30 at the 25. On the next play, Matt Mobley got the call up the middle and went untouched to the endzone to make the score 14-3.
Ervin, facing a second down and very long, rolled to his right and looked to hook up with Johnson. His pass was intercepted again, this time by Aidan Willis, and returned 25 yards for the touchdown and the missed extra point made the score 20-3 with still seconds left on the clock in the first quarter.
The Tide seemed to gain some momentum after picking up 15 yards on a defensive pass interference call, but even setting up at their own 45 could not help what happened next.
Ervin attempted a screen pass to fellow freshman Ahmari Douglas. The pass was tipped twice and popped up into the air. It was snagged by Warrior Maleke Day and he raced 44 yards the other way for Tattnall County’s third pick six of the game to make the score 27-3 with nine seconds left in the first quarter.
A long run, the Warriors’ first big offensive play of the night, by Mobley set up the visitors inside the Tide 20 at the 19 after a 57-yard pick up. However, a penalty and a few short gains set up the Warriors with a third and long situation. Alberic then made the biggest play of the night for the defense as he crushed the quarterback for a big six-yard sack.
This set up the Warriors with a fourth and 17 from the Tide 27. Willis dropped back to pass and found a receiver, who made a good play on the ball to make a great catch, down inside the 10. On the next play, the Warriors punched the ball in to go up 34-3.
The Warriors went on a long nine-play drive and got down inside the 30 yard line of the Blue Tide. Mobley caught a swing pass out of the backfield and made some impressive moves to find room and raced into the endzone to make the score 41-3.
On the ensuing kickoff, Rowe returned the ball to his own 36, but an unsportsmanlike penalty set the Tide up at the Warrior 49. The Tide offense wasted no time getting their offense going as Johnson took a sweep around the left side and raced down the opposite sideline for the touchdown to make the score 41-10 midway through the third quarter.
The Warriors got the ball and drove all the way down inside the five yard line once again. However, an attempt right up the middle was thwarted by sophomore Bryant Bleyman as he caused a fumble, which was recovered by junior Cole Moss at the four.
The Tide finish the season 0-10 for the third time in four years and have now lost 17 straight games dating back to September 16 of last year. With only four players leaving to graduation, however, the Blue Tide should have a chance to be just that much better heading into the 2021 season.