Tift edges Worth 17-14

Tift County got a near perfect scrimmage game result Friday night in Sylvester against the Worth County Rams. It was a close win full of bright spots and plenty of things for the coaches to work on.
The Blue Devils looked sharp on both sides of the ball and on special teams building a thoroughly convincing 17-0 halftime lead and then had to hang on for a 17-14 win as nearly every facet of the game fell apart in the second half.Tift will now host Henry County Friday night in the season opener. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30.
“We knew we were young coming in,” said first year head coach Ashley Anders. “You got to remember that over 50% of our kids had never taken a snap under the lights on a Friday night. We learned it’s a whole lot different practicing than playing.”

The Devils offense romped and stomped all over the home standing Rams in the first two quarters. Tift ran up 11 first downs and 169 yards of offense in the first half with only a missed field goal keeping the score from being worse.

Equally impressive was the Tift defense. Worth was able to muster only one first down in the opening half and totaled just 20 yards of offense. That included a 14-yard gain on the last play of the second quarter.
“I’m real proud of the way our boys played,” said Anders. “We got to cut out the silly mistakes, but we played hard. If you can get a team to play hard, you always got a chance.”

Sophomore quarterback Griffin Collier got the start and completed three passes on Tift’s first drive leading the Devils into scoring position. The drive stalled and ended with a missed field goal.

On its second drive, Tift ran the ball down the Rams’ throats going 65 yards in 11 snaps. Barry Bennett got the one-yard touchdown and finished the game with 69 yards on 18 carries.

One snap later The Tift defense got a score when junior Eric Atkins jumped a rout intercepting a bubble screen and returning it a couple of yards for a score and a 14-0 lead with seven minutes left until half.
Tift finished its scoring with an outstanding two minute drill. The Devils drove the ball to the 16 and Ramirez, a freshman place kicker, was perfect on the field goal which would have been good from much further out. Ramirez was also outstanding kicking off for Tift.

An uneventful fourth quarter saw both teams do nothing with three possessions each when Worth finally caught fire. It began with a highly unusual penalty against Tift. The Devils forced and recovered a fumble right in front of the Worth bench on a Rams reverse play. The penalty that gave the Rams the ball back was a defensive block in the back call during the Rams’ running play. The result of the drive was an 11-play grinding drive to make the score 17-7.

On the ensuing kickoff, a high short kick was muffed by a Tift return man and recovered by the Rams on the Devils’ 32. Four plays later the Rams scored again with 4:45 to play making the score 17-14.
Tift looked like it was going to give the ball back to Worth moments later when junior quarterback Brant Watson came through in the clutch. Watson found Fred Lloyd for a crucial 16-yard gain on a third and nine play.  That third down play flipped the momentum and the Devils were able to salt the game away behind a rejuvenated offensive line.

Both quarterbacks performed admirably for Tift. Collier was 4 for 6 for 29 yards on short passes. Watson was 5 for 16 for 73 yards attempting mostly mid to long-range passes. He and R.J. Merriweather combined for the play of the game in the second quarter. It was a 32-yard strike down the right sideline.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login