LUDOWICI, GA -- The Long County Blue Tide football team welcomed in the defending AAA state champions Pierce County on Friday, Oct. 22 and knew it would be a tough task to pull the upset. Despite the tough fight in the first half, the Tide fell by a score of 44-6.
The Bears opened the game with the ball at their own 35 and immediately went to work on the ground. They used a Wildcat type offense with quarterbacks DJ Bell and Daytin Baker mainly running the ball and picked an average of seven yards a carry before Bell finished off the drive from 12 yards out.
Down 7-0, the Tide offense took the field from their own 20 after a touchback. They did not get much going however as they went three and out and punted.
Dwayne Rowe had a great game punting for the Tide as his first rolled down inside the 25 to the Pierce 23.
The Bears picked up 40 yards on a long run to the Tide 37 and then got near the redzone on a 12-yard pickup. The Tide defense came up a big stop on third and 15 after a holding penalty and forced a field goal attempt.
Jonah Allen’s 42-yard attempt was good as the Bears went up 10-0 as the first quarter came to a close.
Sophomore running back Ahmari Douglas came into tonight’s game needing 112 yards to break 1,000 rushing yards on the year. He picked up 17 on his second carry of the game.
The Tide neared midfield, but were eventually forced to punt. The teams traded three and outs as the Bears took over from their own 44.
Pierce County picked up a big first down on fourth and eight with a run to the Tide 38. The Tide then got called for defensive pass interference as the ball got moved down to the 17.
On the next play, however, the Tide came up with a big play, forcing a fumble and recovering it at their own 10. Zion Ervin’s pass attempt to Rowe was just barely incomplete as Rowe had a chance to score if it was completed.
The Tide punted to their own 46 after their three and out. The Bears picked up 23 yards on the first play of their next drive and eventually got into the endzone from five yards out on a Bell run to go up 16-0 at the half.
The Bears’ defense came up with another three and out to start the second half and they took over at their own 46. They picked up 20 yards to the Tide 34 but were forced to punt after a holding penalty backed them up.
The Tide took over at their own 24 and picked up 13 yards to the 37. On the next play, the Tide fumbled on the handoff after some confusion on the formation as the Bears took over at the Tide 35.
Two plays later, the Bears added to their lead with a 25-yard pass from Bell to Knox Bennett to make the score 23-0 with five minutes left in the quarter.
The Bears were able to get to the 30-point deficit needed for the fourth quarter mercy rule thanks to a 25-yard run by Baker late in the quarter.
After a disastrous dropped kickoff, the Tide found themselves inside their own five to start the fourth quarter.
Douglas made up for his mistake on the kickoff as he ran for 28 yards to the 33. Josiah Ansorena-Smith picked up the most yards on a play for the Tide with a 43-yard sweep run to the Pierce 24.
Douglas picked up another 11 yards to the Pierce 13 and a facemask penalty moved the ball to the six. Two plays later, Douglas finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to make the score 30-6.
The Bears wasted little time getting back out to a 30-point lead as Donelius Johnson took the short kickoff and raced 60 yards to the endzone to make the score 37-6.
The Tide fumbled at their own 23 as the Bears took over with just three minutes left on the clock. They punched in the score to make the final 44-6.
With the loss, the Tide fall to 4-5 on the year and 1-2 in the region. However, due to Brantley’s 13-10 win over Tattnall County, the Tide have now clinched at least the four seed in the state playoffs for the first time in team history.
The Tide will have a week off before traveling to Reidsville to take on the Warriors. A win would clinch the Tide the three seed out of Region 1-AAA in the playoffs while a loss drops them to the four seed.