Speedy Pirates too much for improving Dawgs

Big Pirate lineman lead speedy Devin Moore
Big Pirate lineman lead speedy Devin Moore

The Appling County Pirates turned a close and competitive 7-7 game in the second quarter into a double-digit victory by scoring thre. e touchdowns in the final five minutes of the opening half. The Pirates led 28-7 at the break and were a 42-21 winner when the final horn sounded at Jimmy Swain Stadium in Baxley.

Appling took the opening kickoff and broke off two 10-plus yard running plays and had a fourth and three. The Bulldog defense got a stop and the Dawgs took over and they drove 48-yards for their second, first quarter touchdown of the season and their fourth in their last 24 games. The other three first quarter touchdowns came on offensive drives of nine-yards (2013) and 14-yards (2014) and Bronza Jones 76-yard kickoff return this season.

After Appling was stopped on a fourth and three running play which started just inches into Bulldog territory and ended on the Pirate side of the field at the 48, the Bulldogs showed a new look. Instead of placing starting quarterback Jordan Usher in the shotgun, they lined him up right behind center Cody Fuller. Usher ran for two first downs on third and fourth down and then on third down and 16 Jordan pitched to KeShawn Morgan and the sophomore wing ran down the Pirate sideline for a 30-yard gain down to the Appling one-yard line. Usher finished the drive with the short run into the end zone and then Rig Tinoco drilled the PAT to give TCHS a 7-0 lead with 5:11 to play in the first quarter- their first opening quarter lead of the regular season. Toombs did score first in the Bradwell Institute scrimmage to take an 8-0 first quarter lead.

The Pirates countered with a touchdown drive late in the opening quarter which featured the quick and shifty quarterback Keelan Crosby picking up a first down on a fourth and three play from the TCHS 40. Devin Moore finished the drive with a 10-yard TD run on a sweep play and with a Adalfo Martinez PAT the game was tied at 7-all  with :34 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Late in the first quarter Jones took off on a 34-yard run to the Pirate 46. However, the drive and the game’s momentum may been altered by one sequence.  TCHS had a second and five at the Appling 24. The Bulldogs couldn’t get off the play so they took a timeout and after the timeout Usher kept the ball and gained an inch. On third down Jordan pitched to Morgan who was tackled for a three-yard loss as second down and five turned into fourth and eight. Tinoco tried a 43-yard field goal and he just missed banging it through. The kick hit the goal post low on the right upright.

Appling took over and drove down the field. A 28-yard run down the Pirate sideline set up a 21-yard touchdown run by Japheth Morris and with 5:10 to play in the second quarter giving the Pirates a 14-7 lead. And then the game really changed.

The Bulldogs lost a fumble at their 30 on the first play of their next possession. Morris finished the short drive by jumping and flying through the air and into the end zone from two yards out and suddenly with 3:41 to play in the first half Appling had a 21-7 lead. And the Pirates weren’t done.

The Pirates shifty QB named Crosby avoided a tackle four yards behind the line of scrimmage and then ran to the edge and broke two more tackles racing 42-yards for a quick six as Appling turned a 7-7 game into a 21 point lead, at 28-7. The Pirates scored three touchdowns in four minutes and 16 seconds.

Appling scored a third quarter touchdown on a slant pass from Crosby to Ricky Carter for 33-yards with 9:52 to play to put the Pirates to 35-7.

The Bulldogs continued to compete in the final 21 minutes of the game. McBride threw a short pass to Usher and he raced down the center of the field for a 30-yard gain to the 50. Then McBride, after a fake to his fullback, ran 34 yards to the Appling 16 and Landon Cowart ran the final 16-yards breaking three tackles on his way for six. A Tinoco extra point cut the Pirate lead to 35-14 with 10:57 to play in the final period.

Appling County scored a fourth quarter TD on a short throw by Ricky Carter to open up a 42-14 lead with 5:28 to play in the game. The  Dawgs finished the game with a TD drive. Morgan returned the kickoff 38-yards to the TCHS 43. McBride connected with Usher for a 15-yard passing gain and then McBride ran a yard for the final touchdown of the game.