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November 8, 2013

Devils end season on winning note

Beat Brunswick 48-32, end 5-5

TIFTON — The Tift County Blue Devils closed out their 2013 season on a winning note Friday, defeating the Brunswick Pirates, 48-32, to finish with a 5-5 record.

On paper, it would seem the other way around, if not worse. Brunswick had 643 total yards, to the Devils' 284 and 29 first downs to 11.

What sunk the Pirates' ship was a combination of turnovers and special teams coverage. They turned the ball over four times, one interception for a touchdown and the Blue Devils twice ran kickoffs back for scores.

Three of the turnovers came in the third quarter, allowing Tift to turn a 21-16 halftime lead into 33-16 and knocking on the door again as the period ended.

The Pirates were actually about to take the lead when the siege of miscues started. They received the kickoff and took it out to the 10. A false start knocked them back 5 yards, but thanks to the legs and arm of quarterback Cory Dixon, that was no worry.

Dixon's evasiveness kept the Devils on their heels, but it was his arm that took them down to Tift's 25. He completed his fourth consecutive pass on the drive to Shawn Smith, but Smith coughed up the ball at the 7, where it was recovered by Ladarius Stewart.

Two good runs by Ryan Wedgeworth gave them some breathing room. He appeared ready to take off again, but Brunswick defenders closed in and he flipped the ball to Stewart, who rumbled around left end and kept going until he hit paydirt 65 yards later.

Dixon had them on the move on their next possession, but a short pass attempt at his own 41 was picked off by Jaelon Johnson, who turned it into to six more points. After the kick by Frankie Mejia, it was 34-16.

The final turnover of the quarter came again in the red zone. Dixon hit A.J. Jackson on a long pass down the right sideline. Devarious Butler caught up with him after 47 yards and punched the ball out and it was Stewart on the spot again. He picked it up at the 18 and took it all the way back to Brunswick's 29.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Wedgeworth ran for a 14-yard touchdown to make it 41-16. That would be the first of a flurry of touchdowns, three coming in 39 seconds.

Wedgeworth's run was at 11:52. Brunswick had a big kickoff return out to Tift's 46 and needed only two plays to score, the points on a 26-yard pass from Dixon to Desmond Vail at 11:26. Then Stewart took the kickoff back 86 yards, hitting the endzone at 11:13.

Brunswick added a final touchdown on a 1-yard burst by James Richardson.

The first half was practically slow compared to the second.

Tift received the opening kickoff. Starting on the 30, an all-run offense needed just nine plays to score, an 18-yard reverse by Malik Henry.

Brunswick only needed three minutes to send their response. From the first snap, Dixon was all over the field. He ran for 26 yards during the drive, but it was the air game that produced points. He completed three passes on the drive, the last a 28 yarder to Jakaris Wilson that put points on the board. Instead of kicking, the Bucs turned to Dixon again, who completed to Ishaun Armstrong for the two points to make it 8-7.

The lead would be very short-lived. Henry took the kickoff on the 10, flew past defenders and at the 40, he was completely in the clear and at 5:00, the Devils were up 14-7.

Wedgeworth added a 17-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and Dixon and 8-yard run to make it 21-16 going into the locker room.

Dixon was the star of the show for the Bucs, rushing for 172 yards and passing for 308 on 22-30 attempts. He was intercepted twice and sacked four times by Devil defenders.

The Blue Devils had another game with two 100-yard rushers. Wedgeworth had 127 and Stewart added 106. Wedgeworth only had one completion, to Jacori McCoy, for 13 yards.

The Devils had no turnovers, their first mistake-free game since their opener with Westover. The 5-5 finish is their best since 2010. Brunswick ends their season 3-7.

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  • public safety awards.tif

    Pictured are the honorees of Thursday night's annual Public Safety Officer Appreciation and Awards Banquet by the Tifton Elks Lodge. Shown, from left, are Louise Spradley, who organized the banquet, Eddie Brown with the Tift County Emergency Medical Services, Sgt. Debbie Pyles with the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Police Department, Sgt. Bart Walker with the Omega Police Department, Officer of the Year honoree Thomas Catanzarita with the Tift County Sheriff's Office Jail Division, Deputy Jonathan Toledo with the TCSO, Brandi Conway with the Tifton-Tift County Animal Shelter, Georgia State Patrol Trooper Ben Taylor, Officer Brian Shockley with the Tifton Police Department and volunteer Firefighter Brian Fincher with the Chula Fire Department.

    LEOs and first responders honored at banquet

    A room full of local law enforcement and first responders were honored Thursday night by the Tifton Elks Lodge at their annual Public Safety Officer Appreciation and Awards Banquet for their service in the community.
    Prior to the awards being given out, Louise Spradley, who organized the banquet, welcomed everyone, and the invocation and pledge were led by the Tift County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard.

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