by TROUP BRINSON
The Swainsboro Tigers (4-5) lost on the road Friday night to the Toombs County Bulldogs, 35-14. The loss locks Swainsboro in to the 4th seed in the region with the playoffs quickly approaching.
A low scoring first 3 quarters erupted into a shootout in the final 6 minutes of the final quarter. Swainsboro’s defense was stout most of the night, but Toombs County got on the board first as they managed to get a WR completely uncovered for a short pass and run that covered 58 yards for a 7-0 lead with 5:21 remaining in the opening quarter. The Bulldogs scored again with just over a minute to go in the half after a long drive culminated with a 4 yard TD run to give Toombs County a 14-0 halftime lead.
Swainsboro’s running game never really got on track, instead leaning on freshman QB Lenox Lively to provide the offense through the air. Swainsboro’s WRs dropped a number of passes and Lively forced passes into coverage, trying to make something happen. The Tigers faced a 21-0 lead heading into the 4th quarter after the Bulldogs returned a punt for a TD to end the 3rd quarter.
Midway through the final period Swainsboro began to bite off chunks of yardage through the air. Lively found Demello Jones for a 15 yard TD pass to break the ice. Four minutes later Lively hit Cedric Seabrough for an 8 yard TD pass to close the lead to 21-14 with 2:12 remaining the game. On a night where Swainsboro had near misses with terrific onside kicks that they got their hands on but failed to recover, it seemed plausible that they could get one more possession with a chance to tie the game. However, it was not to be and Toombs County covered the kick and then added 2 late TDs to close out the game, scoring on a 47 yard run and then a 30 yard interception return for the final score of 35-14.
Lively put the ball up 37 times with just 15 completions as Toombs County picked off 4 of his passes. His coach talked about the unique position of having a freshman QB.
“He's been put in a position he shouldn't have to be in,” said head coach Scott Roberts. “It's tough for a freshman to play this position. There is a lot to learn. He's done some good things at times, but he's taken some lumps. He's a really tough kid.”
Lively passed for 247 yards with 2 touchdowns. Senior RB Robert Allen returned to action after recovering from an ankle injury and had 50 yards on 13 carries.
Vidalia awaits Swainsboro to wrap up the region schedule. The Indians sit atop of the region without a loss.
“Vidalia is the same kind of team we see every year,” said Roberts. “With the new coaching staff, they're running new schemes, but they are very athletic. Their QB may be the best player in the region and there are some really good players in this region.”