Lowndes wins impressively 42-16 Over Tift

Tifton- In a game Tift County really wanted to win for a number of reasons, the Blue Devils fell flat and suffered a season-ending 42-16 loss at the hands of an impressive Lowndes High football team. No one event, no single facet of the game, no specific thing caused the Devils to lose. Instead, it was a dominant performance by the Vikings that seemed to snowball as the game wore on.

Lowndes scored four touchdowns in just six minutes in the fourth quarter as the Vikings just seemed to get stronger and stronger behind a withering defense and the strong running of Dezmon Copeland. After the Devils put together an excellent drive early in the third quarter to pull within five at 14-9, Copeland ran the ball 10 times for 125 yards. The senior running back finished with 165 yards on 14 carries, but he was hardly noticeable until the third quarter.

Tift found some running room with Rodrick Gaines in the second half. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr./SGSN

Tift found some running room with Rodrick Gaines in the second half. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr./SGSN

Seconds after the Blue Devils (5-5, 0-5) pulled to within 14-9, Tift’s Montreal Henry pounced on a Michael Barrett fumble at midfield. A pretty good Tift County Senior Night crowd could sense the momentum shift and rose to its feet. Three plays later, however, Lowndes defensive end Logan Neely intercepted a Tift pass and returned it deep into Devils’ territory. The possible momentum shift was snuffed all the way out two plays later when Lowndes QB Austin Dixon hit Xavier Jenkins on a post pattern for a 21-yard touchdown and a 21-9 lead.

After a quick three-and-out by the Tift offense, Lowndes went right back to work. Copeland had runs of 19, 16, 6 and 24 yards before Barrett scored on a two-yard run. Barrett finished with just 24 yards on nine carries but scored three short touchdowns. Lowndes finished with 358 yards of offense – 251 on the ground and 107 through the air. Tift ran for 166 yards and threw for 153 for 319 yards of offense.

On Tift’s next drive, the Devils answered the bell with a score of their own, but it took some startling efforts by a pair of offensive lineman. Playing in his final game, guard Daughtry Melton saved the day on a second and eight play at midfield. Lowndes sacked Griffin Collier for what appeared to be a substantial loss, but things got worse when the ball popped loose. Melton, however, scooped up the fumble, turned up field and raced for what turned out to be an 11-yard gain and a first down instead of a five-yard loss or a turnover. On the next play, senior Kameron Fullmore hustled down field on an 11-yard pass play to Henry. When Henry lost the handle and fumbled, Fullmore was there to recover it. Tift score three plays later when Collier found Rashod Bateman over the middle for an eight-yard score and Tift trailed just 28-16.

Two more Lowndes scores sandwiched around another Tift turnover sealed the deal, however. Tift’s first touchdown came on a sensation pass from Collier to Fed Lloyd. Collier arched a ball deep into Lowndes territory and Lloyd went up and got it falling backwards into the end zone. Collier finished 16 of 28 passing for 127 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran the ball 11 times for 50 yards. Senior Barry Bennett ran for 52 yards on 11 carries. Rodrick Gaines added 35 yards as Tift ran for 166 yards on 31 carries.

Punter Drew Harrison completed a pass on a fake punt that went for 73 yards and a touchdown to Henry, but the play was called back for a block in the back. That play, which wound up netting 26 yards and a first down even with the penalty, summed up the game. A great play was made, but the Devils shot themselves in the foot. In all, Tift had two turnovers and 10 accepted penalties for 73 yards.

At 6-4 (2-3) Lowndes will travel to Cobb County next week to take on McEachern as the four seed. Three seed Valdosta will travel to North Cobb High. Region champs Colquitt will host North Paulding while Hillgrove will travel all the way down to Camden County.

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