PEMBROKE – After ending a 26-game losing streak in the region last week in Screven County, Bryan County had high hopes as they entered Friday night’s game with Claxton and looked to become a factor in the public running of region 3-A.
In a duel between former Georgia Southern teammates Cherard Freeman of BC and first-year Claxton coach Greg Hill, the Tigers quickly shattered those hopes with a 27-0 victory at Redskins Field.
It was Bryan County’s first home game in a month, and one of the biggest crowds in recent seasons has returned home disappointed, as have Freeman’s accusations.
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“Don’t make excuses,” Freeman said. “We are a young team learning to put two good weeks together.
“Our attack lost focus. It looked like we forgot what we were supposed to do. I can’t get my hands on it right now.
British Columbia (2-3, 1-2 in the region) had just completed a four-game road streak and will be off next Friday before returning the following week to face Jenkins County on the return to the House. He will enter the rest week tied with Claxton and Jenkins for fourth place in the region. The top four teams advance to the GHSA playoffs.
The Bryan County-dominated squad, dominated by sophomores, met with a buzz as Claxton claimed his first win of the season for Hill, who was previously the offensive coordinator at Statesboro. The former Georgia Southern star also served as the Bradwell Institute head coach (2014-16) for three years.
Claxton (1-5, 1-2) entered the game as a team looking for an attack. The Tigers found him against a Bryan County defense that struggled early on before balancing out.
The Tigers had 94 rushing yards in five games – hard to believe for a team coached by Hill – but speedsters Jamil Hills and Robbie Lane led an offense that racked up 207 rushing yards.
Hills led the way with 104 yards and Lane added 63 as he consistently beat Bryan’s defenders on the edge. Claxton failed to get the ball inside, but the outside posed no problems in the first half.
Quarterback Hayden Morris also had a good night in the air, completing 17 of 21 passes to five different receivers for 169 yards.
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Claxton scored in the first quarter on a one-yard run from Lane, then opened the game with 17 points in the second quarter. Morris and Ruben Berry each scored on 1-yard runs and Allen Ventura kicked a 33-yard field goal in the last play of the half.
The score remained 24-0 in the third quarter as the BCHS defense stiffened through halftime adjustments. Ventura had a 28-yard field goal with 9:10 to go.
“We weren’t able to throw the ball,” said Hill, one of four quarterbacks in Georgia Southern history to run and pass over 3,000 yards. “I gave them a personal challenge and they responded.
“It was a difficult start. We are making a culture change. Hopefully this will make us change our minds. “
This was the 35th meeting between the two schools, located just 15 miles apart. The Tigers now lead the 27-8 series. Bryan County has played Claxton more times than any other opponent.
Bryan County’s offense was stalled throughout the game as he only managed 37 total yards of attack. Sophomore Austin Clemons had 38 yards on eight carries and junior Konnor Leggett added 17. Starting quarterback Sean Kelly Hill and freshman replacement Trevor Lanier totaled under-23 rushing yards. Lanier completed one of five passes for 5 yards and was intercepted once.
Set of keys
Trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, Bryan County had a quarter and inches at the 50-yard line. On the fourth down, Clemons lost 3 yards and Claxton then scored on six plays to take control of the game.
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Claxton’s possession time was 31 minutes and the Tigers played 59 games against Bryan County’s 32.
What this means
Bryan County are a young team still learning to win and struggling to deal with the ups and downs of a season. With losses expected against undefeated Metter and ECI looming, Freeman’s side must find a way to beat Jenkins County and Portal to eventually clinch a playoff berth.
Morris of Claxton led an offense that had his best night of the season with a total of 376 yards on just one turnaround. It was the Tigers’ first lead of the season, and once they got it they took it and ran with it.
They said it
“We have to come together and try to keep improving. – Bryan County Coach Cherard Freeman.
Bryan County: An open date next weekend, then he’ll play Jenkins County at home on October 15th. It will be the return home.
CLAXTON 27, BRYAN COUNTY 0
CHS; 7; 17; 0; 3; -; 27
BCHS; 0; 0; 0; 0; -; 0
C — Robbie Lane 1 run (Allen Ventura kick)
C — Ruben Berry 1 run (Ventura kick)
C — Hayden Morris 1 point (Ventura kick)
C — Ventura 33 FG
C — Ventura 28 FG