TIFTON - For a half of football, the Tift County Blue Devils had the Lowndes Vikings and every football fan in Georgia stunned.
The Vikings entered Brodie Field a heavy favorite Friday. Lowndes (8-0) was a consensus No. 1 in state rankings and expected to do what they wished against the Blue Devils (3-5).
It didn't happen that way during first 24 minutes. The half was scoreless and Tift had outgained the Vikings by 50 yards.
Lowndes finally got themselves on the scoreboard in the third quarter, but it was not until two minutes remained in the game that the Vikings truly pulled away for a 28-0 victory.
Tift County's first half tactic was ball control.
Lowndes ran four plays in the first quarter and held the ball for all of 1:40. The other 10:20 was spent in the hands of the Blue Devils, almost exclusively on running plays.
Tift's first drive ate up nearly half of the quarter and got them to midfield. The second was ended after two plays on a Josh Brown interception, but Jacurri Brown gave it right back on a fumble that was recovered by Charles King.
The Devils went right back to running and advanced it all the way to the Lowndes 37 when the quarter ended.
Lowndes had its longest and best drive of the half in the second quarter, but came up with a zero.
Tyre West and J.D. Bengston came up with big stops to limit yardage, but Jacurri Brown ran the Vikings down to the 11. They hit fourth down there and when they attempted a field goal, something went awry and Zeb Fletcher had to make a run for it. He was stopped nine yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Chrishon Stephens ran for 26 first half yards. Joe Almond had 15.
Unfortunately, the luck ran out there.
Jacurri Brown connected with Dominique Marshall five plays into the third quarter for a 64-yard score at 10:07. Jose Palacios kicked the first of his four extra points and Tift now had to play from behind.
Tift was unable to move on the next drive. The Vikings did. Jacurri Brown stayed out of rhythm with his receivers and paid for it when Bengston and Byronn Williams sacked him for a 10-yard loss.
Brown, however, went to what worked best - his legs - and dashed for 29 yards on the next snap. West ripped him down for a loss as the drive neared the end zone before Lowndes went to Gary Osby. Osby got the last six yards, two on the scoring run at 2:17.
The score stayed 14-0 for another quarter's worth of action.
Jaylon Jackson foiled what would have been a short field for Lowndes at the end of the third when he jumped on a muffed punt.
Almond threw Tift's first pass completion in a month to Qa Clines to start the fourth, but didn't get much yardage from it. Tift recovered another Jacurri Brown fumble soon after, but fell victim to an intentional grounding call on the ensuing possession.
The last two scores came on consecutive plays.
Osby put Lowndes up 21-0 on another two-yard run at 2:17. Then Tiberius Drocea caught a tipped pass and ran it in from just over 20 yards out for two scores in nine seconds.
Stephens finished with an unofficial 62 yards on 11 carries. Not including sacks, Almond ran 10 times for 28 yards.
Almond was 3-of-13 passing for 26 yards. He saw exclusive action at quarterback as Tift was without Jeffery Butler. Stephens caught one of these passes for a 23-yard gain.
Jacurri Brown completed 7 of his 15 attempts for 124 yards, 64 coming on the Marshall touchdown. Brown had 59 yards on 13 rushes, which includes a sack.
Tift will visit Colquitt County next week.