Tift Shutouts Baldwin 52-0

Tifton- The Baldwin Braves could not have seen this coming. No matter what the AAAA team thought, no matter what plan they had put together, no matter how hard they had practiced this week, Baldwin simply was not ready for the overwhelming performance of the Tift County Blue Devils. Head Coach Ashley Anders’ Devils pounded the Braves 52-0 running their record to 4-0.

“That was our best game so far,” said Anders after the game. “We played well in all three phases of the game. From the opening kickoff we jumped on them early and didn’t let up.”

The Tift defense was relentless. J.T. Graydon, Geoff Davidson, Cody Thompson, Elvin Coney, Wendell
White and many, many more just wrecked the Braves’ game plan. Baldwin had just over 100 yards of total offense including a 37-yard gain on a very lucky tipped pass that just as easily could have been an interception returned for a Tift touchdown.

The Tift special teams were just as effective. Brothers Fernando and Rescindo Ramirez took care of most of the place kicking. Fernando was perfect on extra points including three he kicked all the way onto Eighth Street. Rescindo’s kickoffs were also huge as the game wore on.

Montreal Henry took the opening kickoff 36 yards to the Baldwin 49 yard line to open the game. Two snaps later Barry Bennett went up the middle for a 36 yard touchdown run and the Devils were off and running.

“After that kickoff return, our guys came off the sideline saying ‘That’s going to be seven,’” said Anders.

Quarterback Griffin Collier left the game momentarily after a hard hit, but the Devils didn’t miss a step. Tift went 56 yards in eight plays for their second score with Brant Watson connecting with Fred Lloyd for a five yard touchdown pass to make the score 14-0. That was Watson’s only pass while Collier went 4 for 7 for 81 yards and three touchdowns. Five Tift receivers had one catch each with Lloyd, R.J. Merriweather and Bennett catching TDs.

RJ Merriweather scores after a great screen pass from Griffin Collier in the second quarter. Shine Rankin Jr./SGSN

RJ Merriweather scores after a great screen pass from Griffin Collier in the second quarter. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr./SGSN

The rout truly began in the second quarter when a host of Devils blocked a Baldwin punt. Henry scooped up the loose ball and returned it 16 yards for the score and a 21-0 lead. A three and out on their next possession was made worse when the Braves attempted a fake punt after a timeout at their own 35. The Devils sniffed it out and threw the ball carrier for a loss. One snap later, Collier connected with Merriweather for a 34-yard score on a perfectly executed screen pass.

Another second quarter three and out for Baldwin gave Tift the ball at the 50. A 31-yard strike from Collier to Rashod Bateman set up Rodrick Gaines’ four-yard touchdown run to make the score 35-0. Bateman had a spectacular punt return after yet another Braves’ three and out. He started right and then made it back to his return wall on the left sideline working the ball down to the Baldwin 8 yard line. Bennett walked in untouched on another perfectly executed screen play for Tift’s fourth TD of the quarter.

Tyberus Polk scored on an 8-yard run on the second play of the fourth quarter and sophomore place kicker Marc Renner added a 36-yard field goal with about five minutes left in the game. The second half was played with a running clock under the “Mercy Rule.” The two 12-minute quarters took 30 minutes to play.

Alcovy comes to town next Friday night for Tift’s homecoming game. Kickoff is 7:30.

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