The Swainsboro Tigers won a physical battle this past Friday night to pick up their first win of the season, beating Washington County 20-14. The Tigers, originally scheduled to play Jefferson County, were fortunate to find a team in a similar situation after COVID-related cancellations midweek.
Swainsboro traveled to Sandersville to meet the Golden Hawks on a field that the Tigers dominated just last season in a 27-7 victory. The Tigers got on the board first after Washington County mishandled a punt attempt, putting Swainsboro 31 yards away from pay dirt. Robert Allen scored from 3 yards out on fourth-and-goal to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead with 5:07 on the first quarter clock. The Golden Hawks picked up a first down around midfield and then found a crease to spring a 50-yard touchdown run to take a 7-6 lead.
Swainsboro scored again in the second quarter on a 14-yard pass from Ty Adams to Fred Seabrough, and the Tigers took a 12-7 lead. Last week’s shutout at the hands of Metter became a distant memory as Swainsboro’s offensive line performed much better, allowing running backs time and space and giving Adams adequate time to make decisions.
The Tigers have experience and playmakers at several positions, but this is a very young team for the most part with players getting their first taste of the Friday night spotlight.
“Week 1 was the first time for many of our starters,” explained head coach Scott Roberts. “That's not making excuses. There are none. It's just a reality that we knew as coaches. We have to play and get experience under the lights.”
Swainsboro stretched their lead to 14-7 in the third quarter after another punting mishap for Washington County turned into a safety. That set up an exciting fourth quarter with drama until the final minute of play.
Washington County caught fire midway through the final quarter, biting off big chunks of yardage and driving 74 yards to tie the game at 14 with 5:23 remaining. The Tigers received the kick and started off 74 yards away as well from a potential victory. Swainsboro steadily moved down the field, making it to the 10-yard line with under 40 seconds remaining. From there, Adams took the snap and rolled out to his left, surveying 2 receivers on that side of the field. Adams decided to tuck the ball and head into a vacated middle of the field, diving into the end zone just ahead of Washington County defenders. The 10-yard TD scamper with 32 seconds remaining gave Swainsboro a 20-14 lead and hard-earned victory. A young team found a way to get it done in the fourth quarter and grew a lot in the process.
“Our kids ignored all the noise that goes on around them after Week 1 and just went back to work,” said Roberts. “These kids fought like crazy for each other to get that win Friday night, and I could not be prouder of them. If they continue to fight like that, we'll be ok.”
Swainsboro rushed for 197 yards on 43 carries, split almost evenly among three runners. Allen carried the ball 21 times for 68 yards, Adams 9 times for 65 yards, and Ryan Dekle 11 times for 65 yards. Adams passed 7-14 for 95 yards. Fred Seabrough caught 3 for 34 yards, Demonte Smith caught 2 passes for 31 yards, and Cedric Seabrough caught 2 passes for 30 yards. Zabrien Harden led all defenders with 13 tackles.
Swainsboro will host the Statesboro Blue Devils this Friday night at Tiger Field. Statesboro will be playing the initial game of the season.