TIFTON -- It may have been hard to tell which was sloppier, the weather or the game. However, the Tift County Blue Devils figured out a way to defeat the Brooks County Trojans, 13-8, in Friday night football.
Tift only managed 13 points, even though Brooks turned the ball over six times in the contest.
But it was not a turnover that set up the final Tift score.
Late in the game, the Devils forced a punt that Tift's Larry Dean blocked. The ball was recovered on the Brooks' 40 by Zack Brown.
C.J. Hille broke open on a 30-yard run to begin the drive and three plays later, Kelvin Burns scored from two yards out.
Tift went for two, but Donnell Cullins' pass was broken up in the endzone.
That score came with 2:32 left in the game. On the next drive by Brooks, Cullins ended any chance of a Trojans' comeback when he intercepted a Micah Edwards pass. That was the last of four interceptions that Edwards threw in the game, Dean had two of the other picks, while Randy Parker accounted for the other takeaway.
"We played hard, but made a lot of mental mistakes. You have to hand it to them though, they came ready to play," said Tift coach Tommy Seward.
With the score 0-0 after the first quarter, Tift broke the tie when Burns went in from two yards out. Charlie Edwards' point after made the score 7-0 with 10:08 left in the first half.
Set up by a Stan Summers fumble recovery, Tift quickly regained the ball. However, Brooks held and took over on the Trojan 24.
On a 4th-and-6 from the 28, Edwards hit Marcus Stroud on a 31-yard pass off a fake punt. Two plays later, Joseph Huewitt ran the ball 27 yards to the Tift nine yardline. The next play saw Edwards go in for the touchdown. Tift's Sumner Ellis intercepted Edwards' two-point conversion pass and the score was 7-6 with 3:22 left in the half.
Late in the third quarter, Huewitt took an Edwards' punt and went 57 yards to the Tift eight yardline. However, the Blue Devil defense forced Brooks back 12 yards to the 20. There on a 4th-and-goal play, Edwards threw a pass to Stroud that went to the one yardline. However, Tift held the junior out of the endzone.
Facing a 1st-and-10 from its one, Tift surrendered a safety when Cullins slipped and was tackled in the endzone by Keldrick Sermons making the score 8-7 with 11:44 left in the game.
The teams then traded possessions until Dean's blocked punt late in the game.
"We expected a good, hard-fought game and that's what we got," said Seward afterwards.
Burns had to take up the slack in the running game for Emanuel Nelson and Justin Perez, who both missed the game with ankle injuries.
The senior responded with 20 carries for 101 yards. Hille also had 54 yards on nine carries.
Besides the four interceptions and the Summers' fumble recovery, Tift's Matthew Cushion also added a fumble recovery and several tackles for loss yardage.
Tift will now get set to play the Worth County Rams in Sylvester Friday. Worth remained undefeated with a 21-12 win over the Northeast Macon Raiders.
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