Tigers win thriller against Statesboro

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The Swainsboro Tigers moved to 2-1 on the season with their second fourth- quarter victory in two weeks, defeating the Statesboro Bluedevils 12-6 at Tiger Stadium this past Friday night. The Tigers had not beaten Statesboro in their past seven tries, dating back to Swainsboro’s 14-7 win in 2000.

Freshman Lenox Lively got his first varsity starting assignment and was sharp. Swainsboro moved the ball well in the first half with three drives that stalled inside Statesboro’s 20-yard line. Unable to dent the scoreboard, the Tigers’ defense was tasked with keeping the score close and they were up for the challenge, pitching a shutout for the first two quarters and keeping the game scoreless at the halftime break.

Lively leaned on senior WR Cedric Seabrough throughout, finding the North Carolina State commit on quick passes towards the sideline or for short 5-7 yards passes down field. Seabrough settled into soft areas of the defense, and Lively was on time getting the ball out. Still, a mistake on Swainsboro’s punting team after their first possession of the second half put the Tigers’ defense in a tough spot inside of Swainsboro’s 30-yard line early in the third quarter. Statesboro scored on a 19-yard QB draw with 8:34 remaining in the quarter to give the Bluedevils a 6-0 lead.

Swainsboro scored two possessions later as Lively found senior WR Derrick Jones on a 21-yard post route, both players’ first touch downs of their high school careers. The extra point was wide, and the game remained knotted at 6-6 with 1:29 remaining in the third quarter.

Swainsboro’s defense tackled well and made the going tough for a Blue Devil squad playing their first game of the season. Led by senior linebacker Zabrien Harden, offenses have been unable to move the ball consistently allowing Swainsboro’s offense to shine in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers faced tense moments again in the fourth quarter but drove the field with timely conversions.  Lively went back to reliable receiver Cedric Seabrough for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 6:21 remaining in the game on a back-shoulder throw that was perfectly executed.  The 2-point conversion was unsuccessful, and Swainsboro’s defense was once again in the spotlight. Statesboro drove the field and moved down inside of the Tiger’s 20-yard line before Dorien Foots intercepted the Blue Devils’ fourth down pass from the 18-yard line into the end zone.

Swainsboro took over on their own 20-yard line and milked all but 1:21 off of the clock before having to punt. Statesboro received the punt near midfield but could not control the football, dropping it in the return attempt and the Tigers recovered to put the nail in the coffin and seal their second win of the season.

“The way this bunch is responding to adversity is one of the things we're proudest of as a staff this early in the season,” said head coach Scott Roberts. “That was our main focus of the offseason and we are seeing some of that pay off in these last few games.”

Offensively and defensively, Swainsboro continues to improve, and the chemistry between Lively and his receivers was evident.

“The wide receivers have started making some plays for us the last few games,” said Roberts. “Lenox did a good job of protecting the football and making his reads. He did a good job of decision making on the RPO's, too. The defense has been playing really well. We are still making some mistakes that young kids make, but we are playing really hard on that side of the ball and that makes up for a lot of mistakes.”

Lively finished 19 of 31 for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cedric Seabrough led the way with 10 catches for 97 yards. Dekle was the top rusher with 45 yards on 26 carries as Swainsboro gained 247 yards of total offense. Harden led the defense with 7 tackles and Fred Seabrough added 2 sacks.

Swainsboro will host Washington County this Friday night for homecoming.

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