TIFTON — In a battle of unbeaten teams, Eighth Street’s eighth grade football team dismantled Coffee Middle 42-13 on Homecoming day at Brodie Field Thursday.
“That was a great win, we knew today was a big day,” head coach Rusty Smith said.
With the win, the Devils (5-0) will host the South Georgia Athletic Conference championship game in two weeks at Brodie Field against the Trojans (4-1).
Coffee jumped out to a 6-0 second quarter lead after a Trojan defender intercepted a Tadric Jackson pass and returned the ball 15 yards for a touchdown. Jackson’s arm was hit upon release and the Trojans capitalized. The 2-point attempt was no good however, and Coffee led 6-0 with 7:37 remaining in the second quarter.
Eighth Street came right back on their next drive to score a touchdown. After a 20 yard kickoff return by Ladarius Stewart gave the Devils great field position at the 42 yard line, Jackson hit Will Reinhardt for a 31 yard pass play to give the Devils a first down at the Coffee 27.
Two plays later, Jackson scored on a 26-yard scramble, and then hit Devarious Butler on a pass play to give the Devils an 8-6 lead with 6:19 remaining in the second quarter.
The Devils added another score with under three minutes remaining in the half when Stewart scored on a four yard run. The drive began after Stewart intercepted Keegan McGovern in which Stewart looked as if he were the intended receiver on the play. Jackson then hit Butler two plays later on a 61 yard pass play to give the Devils a first and goal on the Coffee 4-yard line.
Jackson then kicked the PAT to give ESMS a 15-6 lead at halftime.
On Coffee’s first drive of the second half, McGovern had another pass intercepted after Gunner Schemmel tipped the pass. Jackson intercepted and returned the ball 25 yards for another ESMS touchdown with just under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. Reinhardt then hit Butler on the “swinging gate” pass play to give the Devils a 23-6 lead.
Eighth Street’s defense held Coffee to negative 3 yards of total offense in the second half behind great penetration from the defensive front.
Late in the third quarter, Jackson again scored from one yard out to blow the game open for the Devils, 29-6. The drive stalled, but Jackson executed a perfect fake punt, passing to Rashad Parks for a 29 yard play to keep the drive going.
Shaquille Cook added a late score for ESMS in the contest, and Coffee added a 57-yard fumble return with the second and third-teamers in the ball game. Eighth Street has yet to allow an offensive touchdown this season.
Jackson finished the game 6-of-10 for 170 yards, ran an interception back for touchdown, kicked an extra point, kicked a ball in the endzone for a touchback and had one punt for 40 yards. Butler caught one ball for 61 yards and Reinhardt finished with 63 yards on three receptions.
ESMS will travel to Lowndes Middle on Thursday.
Eighth Street 42, Coffee Middle 13
1st downs 8 7
rush-yds. 24-68 28-42
C-A-I 6-11-1 5-11-2
pass yds. 170 28
total-yds. 35-238 39-70
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Dr. Eric Holland and the Tift County Blue Devils were undecided earlier this week on a hotel room in Macon. One might not be needed. They might have been able to simply float home. The final game of the 2013-14 season was played Saturday night at the Macon Centreplex and it ended with a No. 1 team crowned in Class AAAAAA. Ten years after their last championship game appearance and 18 since their one and only title, the Blue Devils added a second to the trophy case, defeating the Wheeler Wildcats, 63-49.
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Dr. Eric Holland does not have the jitters. His Tift County Blue Devils are individually playing in their first state basketball championship game Saturday night at 8:45 p.m. at the Macon Centreplex against the Wheeler Wildcats. For him, this is old hat.
"I'm excited like always, but never nervous," he said. He believes the team will follow his example. "Our preparation has been good and our emotions are intact. This is the most focused I've seen them."
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As the Tift County Blue Devils prepare to play for the Class AAAAAA state basketball championship this Saturday in Macon against Wheeler, I began to think about the last time the Devils played for a state title.
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A trio of Tift County Blue Devil football players officially decided their futures Wednesday afternoon. Sam Douglas, Ryan Wedgeworth and Rashad Parks all inked scholarships at the Performing Arts Center, in an event emceed by their head coach, John Reid.
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