The Swainsboro Tigers are headed back to the Final Four after their 34-28 win over Elbert County. This is the third straight year the Tigers have made it this far, which is one of the hardest things to do in the sport, and it speaks volume to the program Head Coach Scott Roberts has built.
He was proud of the team saying, "They're all special, but I'm so proud of the way these guys responded to the adversity we had losing the last two games of the regular season. That's a credit to these kids, assistant coaches, and the culture we have created in this program."
The Tigers started the scoring off with a 28-yard touchdown run from Demello Jones and converted the two-point to take the lead 8-0. Elbert County countered the Tigers quick score with two of their own to regain the lead 14-8. The Tigers were able to tie it up at 14 about a minute after losing the lead on a 46-yard Qin Brown touchdown run, the two point was no good. The score remained that same at half, 14-14.
Coming out of the half, Elbert County got the ball, but was forced to punt by that dominant Swainsboro defense. The offense put together a five-minute touchdown drive, finished by a Ja’bios Smith 41-yard touchdown run to retake the lead, the two-point was no good, 20-14. Elbert answered back with another touchdown, they made the PAT and took the lead 21-20.
Qin Brown returned the kickoff to midfield and the Tigers were set up perfectly for a good drive, and that they did in less than a minute, on a Jones two-yard touchdown run. The Tigers once again couldn't get the two, so they only led 26-21. This back-and-forth affair continued as Elbert County’s passing offense continued to pain the Tiger defense and they went up 28-26 with nine minutes left in the game.
The Tigers needed an answer to keep their season alive and after a good drive down to the one, the Freshman Smith, ran through a hole from the offensive line into the endzone for a Tiger lead. The two-point conversion was converted by Smith as well, who was fired up after he fought his way into the endzone.
The Tigers defense forced another punt, but the Tigers were stopped on downs inside the Elbert County 15-yard line with about a minute on the clock, meaning they needed one more stop to win the game.
Elbert hit on a big pass to get them on Swainsboro’s side of the field and looked like they were going to go win the game, but as they have done all year the Swainsboro defense came up big. This time, via an interception by Junior Bryson Tarver on the EC 10-yard line.
The Tigers once again will be moving on. Coach Roberts was appreciative of the fans and environment saying, "Elbert County had an outstanding football team. The atmosphere was electric from pre-game warm-up until the end of the game. Again, we experienced adversity falling behind on the scoreboard twice and our kids just kept fighting. It was exactly what playoff football is about and our guys met the challenge and made the plays we had to make to advance. I appreciate all of our fans that made the trip to Elbert County. Our kids fed off of the energy that those fans brought!"
The Tigers will head to Brooks County to play the 8-5 Trojans. The game won’t be at the high school, the address is 400 Barwick Rd., Quitman, Georgia 31643. Pack the stands and cheer these guys on as they are one win away from going back to Atlanta.