TIFTON - The Tift County Blue Devils turned on the jets Friday night and blew out the Worth County Rams, 37-13 at Brodie Field. The win was Tift's first of the 2019 season.
Speed was the name of the Blue Devils' game Friday. They had an unofficial 305 rushing yards, with four of five touchdowns coming on the ground. The other belonged to Willie Brown, who took a Worth kickoff from end to end on a 97-yard return.
Tift shook off last week's shutout loss to Valdosta with a touchdown on their first possession. Walt Jackson did most of the legwork on a 78-yard drive before Chrishon Stephens burst in from four yards out at 7:01. Pedro Mendoza provided the first of five extra point kicks.
Worth's night began, if not on the wrong foot, the wrong snap. Two of them, to be precise. Punter Reilly Mason had to land on the first errant snap to him at his own 12. Though the Rams escaped harm when the Devils fumbled it back to them, Mason had to take a safety when a snap from his own 4 went into the end zone.
Early in the second quarter, Mackinzie Daniels recovered another Blue Devils fumble, this one in the end zone for a touchback. Nothing came of it and Tift was soon on the move again. Worth initially forced a fourth down, but after the Rams called timeout, Tift hustled its offense on the field and quarterback Joe Almond kept the chains moving with a nine-yard pass to Cade Anders at the 42.
Six plays after the game, Stephens ran for his second touchdown, this one from two yards out at 4:20. The 16-0 score stood at halftime.
Tift was not done rolling the dice.
Mendoza squibbed the opening kickoff and Jeffery Butler landed on it at the 30. Butler stayed in for the Devils, not only picking up his first ever rushing yards, but his first offensive touchdown. He exploded through Worth's secondary for a 21-yard touchdown at 10:26.
The Rams made their way onto the scoreboard on the next drive. Taking advantage of a trio of defensive penalties, Jordan Curry connected with Joseph Jones in the right corner of the end zone at 4:51. It was Curry's first completion of the night. Worth muffed the extra point snap.
Worth cut the lead to 23-6, but that did not last long.
Brown took the kickoff at his own 3 yard line. With his teammates blocking to perfection, Brown raced down the middle of the field before moving towards his sideline. Nary a Worth hand touched him and he sailed in for the score.
Each side scored in the final frame. Curry found a leaping Shaun Harrell for a seven-yard touchdown with 7:12 left. Ray Spraggins, who replaced an injured Mason, kicked the extra point.
Tift turned its offense over to freshman running back Javon King and he delivered all 70 yards of the final scoring drive. At 3:13, he ran in from 11 yards out.
Almond completed 6-of-10 passes Friday for 70 yards. Five different receivers caught passes, K.B. Lester snaring two for 25 yards. Five Blue Devils ran for 30 or more yards. Butler led with 78 yards on four tries, King had 77 on eight. Jackson (48), Almond (43) and Stephens (32) were the others.
Brown's kickoff touchdown was the first since the 2016 season. At 97 yards, it was the second longest in school history, trailing only Antonio Terry's 98 yard return against Valdosta in 1976.
Curry completed 4 of 11 attempts for Worth for 26 yards. A small army of players had a chance to run the football for the Rams. Jones' 51 yards on 14 tries was the most in both categories. Harrell ran 10 times for 39 yards. Worth had negative yardage for most of the half and just 21 at intermission.
Tift will travel to Crisp County (1-2) next week. The Cougars dropped their second straight Friday via a 19-17 score to Dutchtown.