Tift Ground game dominates Henry Co. 56-7

Barry Bennett and the Tift County Blue Devils turned the Henry County Warhawks every which way but loose Friday night in a brutal 56-7 beating to open the 2015 high school football season and give Ashley Anders his first win as a head coach.

Bennett scored four touchdowns in the first quarter as the Devils simply dominated offensively, defensively and on special teams. Special teams kept AAAA Henry in a terrible hole in field position, the Tift defense throttled the hapless Warhawks offense, and offensive coordinator Marc Beach’s offense was flawless. By halftime Tift lead 49-0 and held a 264-15 advantage in total yards.

The best thing Henry did was arrive on time unlike last year when the Warhawks were a half hour late. After that, not much went right. Tift special teams pinned the Warhawks inside their own 20 on the opening kickoff and the defense forced a three and out behind two tackles for loss by Brant Watson. A shaky punt gave Tift the ball at the Henry 29 and Bennett scored on the first snap on a simple run up the middle.

Henry’s offense was three and out again punting from its own 14 on the next possession.Quarterback Griffin Collier immediately went 33 yards up the middle for a big gain that eventually led to Bennett’s second touchdown from six yards out. Bennett finished with touchdowns on half his six carries and 44 yards. He also scored Tift’s third TD on a 17-yard pass from Collier to make the score 21-0.

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Sophomore QB Griffin Collier breaks tackles during a long run during the first half. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr./SGSN

Henry’s next possession started at its nine yard line and J.T. Grayden recovered a fumble at the one yard line on the next play. Bennett took it in from there. Anders was happy with his team’s first outing.“We knew the offense was capable of this kind of game. We had a few little things that held us back last week, but we had a great week of practice,” said Anders. “We were really focused on what we needed to do.“But I tell you what, we were really focused tonight and executed early,” said Anders. “From both sides of the ball, we just attacked.”

Collier kept the onslaught going throwing a seven yard TD to Quay Duggins on the first possession of the second quarter. Collier finished 5 for4 5 for 50 yards and two scores. Linebacker Cody Thompson recovered a fumble on the Warhawks’ next snap giving Tift the ball at the Henry 17. Rodrick Gaines looked like a man among boys on the next two snaps running for 14 yards up the middle before walking into the end zone for Tift’s sixth score.

The Tift defense once again forced a three and out but the Warhawks did manage a decent punt giving the Devils their worst field position of the half at their own 40. Watson came in at QB and the Tift offense didn’t miss a beat. Watson was five for six passing on the drive for 48 yards. The last completion was a spectacular one-handed catch by Tyberus Polk who then avoided a tackler with a 360-degree spin move at the five before diving across the goal line for the seventh Tift score and a 49-0 lead.

The second half took just 30 minutes to play because of a running clock. The Warhawks put together a nice scoring drive going 80 yards in 13 plays. The Devils B-team responded with a one-play drive. Sophomore Deonte Calhoun took a first down handoff from QB Trey Taylor and went right up the middle for a 70-yard touchdown run.

Tift will host Cook High next week on Brodie Field. Kickoff is set for 7:30.

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