CORDELE - Crisp County scored first Friday and kept the Tift County Blue Devils on their toes all night en route to a 27-14 victory.
Total yards were nearly even in the contest - an unofficial 258 for Tift to 263 for Crisp - but the Cougars were able to make the most of their drives.
Sirad Bryant and Marquise Palmer tortured the Devils for two touchdowns each, turning a 7-7 first quarter tie into a 27-7 lead at the end of the third.
Bryant was the player who got things started, stepping in front of a Tift pass for a 42-yard interception touchdown at 6:47 in the first quarter. Connor Richmond made the first of his three extra point kicks and Crisp was quickly ahead.
Following a punt by each side, the Blue Devils evened the count after taking over on their own 49. Walter Jackson took the handoff from Joe Almond and burst through a seam opened by the offensive line. Crisp couldn't catch up and Jackson scored with 23 seconds remaining in the quarter. Pedro Mendoza booted the point-after and the score was knotted, 7-7.
Crisp went back in front early in the second courtesy of Palmer, whom the Devils had difficulty tackling all night. Palmer surged down his own sideline on a 54-yard jaunt to make it 14-7 at 11:03.
Neither side scored for the remainder of the half, though the Blue Devils had one golden opportunity. A Crisp punt went out of bounds at the Cougars' 28, but the ball was stripped away and recovered by Javon Hardemon at the 15.
A gamble on fourth down by Tift went the Cougars' way in the third. A.J. Lofton immediately ran down to the 15, which turned out to be his last run of the night. An all-around athlete who had taken most snaps as a wildcat quarterback, Lofton appeared to suffer a leg injury.
Crisp brought in Jack Carter for passing purposes and he responded with a seven-yard strike to Bryant to go up 21-7 with 4:08 left in the third. Two minutes later, a turnover set up a short field and Palmer barreled in from the 8. The extra point was missed.
Switching over to his own wildcat variation, head coach Ashley Anders rotated quarterbacks Jeffery Butler and Tyler Parker afterwards. Parker completed his first two varsity passes in the game and had a big scramble in the fourth period to move the ball to the 2.
Tift could not convert on downs, but soon ended up in the end zone anyway. Tyre West recovered a fumble at the 2. Chrishon Stephens rumbled in from there with 4:57 to go in the game.
Jackson had 75 rushing yards and a touchdown to lead Tift, which also got 40 yards from Butler, 33 from Almond and 26 from Stephens. Palmer's 154 led Crisp.
The Blue Devils travel to Parkview next week.