On August 19th the Toombs County Bulldogs and the Screven County Gamecocks were in the same venue opening up the 2017 season. They both played in the Erk Russell Classic, in Paulson Stadium, in Statesboro. The Dawgs edged East Laurens 10-8 and the Gamecocks defeated Bluffton 45-20. Since that hot August Saturday the Bulldogs have won 9 of their 10 games on the way to a 10-1 record. Last season TCHS posted a 6-5 mark. Screven County also improved despite just winning one more game. The Gamecocks are 11-0 and their closet margin of victory is 24 points- a 44-20 win home win over now 10-1 Jefferson County. Toombs County Football Page
91 days later the two teams will meet in Sylvania in the second round of the playoffs. The game will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. and the coverage on Y-101 Radio and Mixlr will begin at 7 with The Bulldog Pregame Show.
“I think both teams are much better,” Toombs County head coach Richie Marsh said. “They have had a phenomenal year and of course we feel pretty good about the year we have had. It’s going to be a brawl. They are doing the same things and we are doing the same things and I just think they are better at what they do.”
Last year the two teams, who used to be in the same region, met in the opening round of the GHSA State Playoffs in Sylvania. The Gamecocks turned a 7-3 game late in the first half into a 35-9 victory by scoring a touchdown with just 41 seconds remaining in the half when Armani Bunbury threw a 40-yard TD pass to Tyquan Johnson. In the third quarter Bunbury threw three more TD passes. He tossed a short pass to JaTarri Tanksley and it went for 75-yards and then he fired two more TD passes to Johnson for 28 and 39-yards. Bunbury had his best passing game of his career against Toombs. He completed 12-of-18 passes for 274 yards and he ran the ball 7 times for 69 yards.
“We are ready for a physical match up,” Marsh said. “It was really physical at the beginning last year and we have got to be ready for that and we can’t make the same mistakes. It was 7-3 right before halftime and we blew a coverage, Than we fumbled the ball going in and comeback after the half and we blow another coverage.”T
The Bulldogs opened up the playoffs with a fourth quarter comeback home win over Fitzgerald. The Dawgs trailed 24-14 prior to a 24-yard touchdown run by Keshawn Morgan in the third quarter and two Dalton McBride TD throws in the fourth quarter to Kyle Reynolds and D.J. Matthews. The Matthews catch came on a fourth down play with 24 seconds left in the game.
Screven County whipped Washington County 42-7 in the opening round in Sylvania. Bunburry passed for 100 yards and ran for 115. The QB opened the game running 79-yards for a touchdown on an option keeper. “The quarterback is a trigger puller,” Marsh said. “They run the option and when he pulls the ball he is a real threat.” Bunburry has run for 702 yards this season and has scored 12 touchdowns. He has thrown for 1.115 yards and has tossed 14 touchdown passes with 4 interceptions. He threw for 249 yards with 3 TD passes against Wade Hampton (South Carolina) and 201 with 1 touchdown against Josey.
The Gamecocks don’t have a 1,000 yard rusher, but they do have four backs with 500 or more yards. Kim Hunter leads the way with 720 yards and 8 touchdowns. He carried the ball 7 times for 41 yards against the Bulldogs last season with a long run of 13. Erick Roberson has run for 547 and 9 TD’s and C.J. Wright for 540 with 8 TD’s.
Wright is a 6-0 285 pound senior who has committed to Georgia Southern. Last year he ran for 40-yards on 10 carries against Toombs County with a long run of 13. He also had five total tackles from the defensive line- 1 solo and 4 assists. Wright is also a wrestler and he lost 4-2, in the final seconds, in the 285 pound division at state back in February.
Johnson, a 6-3 195 pound senior is Screven’s leading receiver with 24 catches for 434 yards and 7 TD’s with a long play of 67 yards. Last year against TCHS he caught 5 balls for 142 yards and 3 TD’s.
Last season Toombs County’s Keshawn Morgan ran for 119 yards on 18 carries with 1 TD against Screven County. Jeidon Sistrunk totaled 71 yards on 15 carries.
Toombs County Unofficial Statistics (through 11 games)
Toombs County is averaging 28.9 points per game and is yielding 14.7
Keshawn Morgan 213 carries for 1,432 yards (6.7) Long 50 19 TD’s
Dalton McBride 90 carries for 408 yards (4.5) Long 34 6 TD’s
Jeidon Sistrunk 60 carries for 308 yards (5.1) Long 39 5 TD’s
Demetrius Owens 21 carries for 165-yards (7.9) Long 39 3 TD’s
Derek Mincey 15 carries for 107 yards (7.1) Long 30
Alex Hunt 4 carries for 22-yards (5.5) Long 15
Trey Cloud 3 carries for 10-yards (3.3) Long 7
Kyle Reynolds 1 for 4-yards
Adam Edwards 1 carry for -1-yards
Totals 410 caries for 2,451 (6.0) Long 50 38 TD’s
Dalton McBride 37-for-83 (45.0%) for 483 yards Long 59 yards 8 interceptions and 6 TD’s
Jaquail Boyd 11 catches for 187 yards Long 33 1 TD
Ashlee Ashley 8 catches for 117-yards Long 47-yards
Nykwan Coleman 5 catches for 129 yards Long 59 1 TD
Chandler Lynn 10 catches for 136 yards Long 30 1 TD
D.J. Matthews 9 catches for 64 yards Long 18 2 TD
Kyle Reynolds 1 catch for 12 yards Long 12 1 TD
Keshawn Morgan 1 catch for 11 yards
Adam Edwards 4 catches for 16 yards
Rig Tinoco PAT 31-for-33 (93.9 %) FG 9-for-16 (56.3%) Made 26, 27, 28, 28, 32, 40, 42, 44 and 50. Missed 35, 37, 39, 41, 42 (blocked), 43 and 47.
Bulldogs seek to avenge a fourth loss from 2016
So far this season the Toombs County Bulldogs have avenged three losses from last season. The Dawgs have beaten Twiggs County, Vidalia and Swainsboro and a win over Screven County would give them a fourth.
Bullodgs have knocked off three playoff teams
From the 2009 season through 2016, the Toombs County Bulldogs defeated two teams which made the playoffs. In 2010 they beat Appling County 27-21 in Baxley. The Pirates advanced as a 4-6 team and lost at Putnam County 20-14. In 2012 Toombs nipped Benedictine 14-12 in the Pit. The Cadets beat TCHS in a mini game and made the playoffs.
This season the Bulldogs have already beaten three teams that made the state playoffs. Telfair County, a 20-19 loser to Toombs in the Pit, made the playoffs with a 4-6 record and lost at Marion County 28-27. Jeff Davis made the post season with a 5-5 record and a mini game win over Swainsboro. The Yellow Jackets lost in the first round at Thomasville 35-14. The Bulldogs beat JD 38-14 on the road. The Vidalia Indians advanced to the post season with a 5-4 record and they lost at Brooks County 39-7. The Dawgs won 26-7 at Vidalia.
Let there be light
One problem the Bulldogs have when they make the playoffs is the early setting sun. The Bulldogs don’t have any lights on their regular practice field. Last week they shared the lighted Toombs County Middle School Field with the Lyons Recreation Department All-Star football teams. This week the Bulldogs have temporary lights on each side of the field, so now they don’t have to practice on two different fields.
Lights, camera, action for Coach Marsh
In addition to his usual Y-101 Radio interview, coach Marsh was interviewed by WJCL TV’s Amber Lynn Carroll after Tuesday’s practice. Cassady had to do what many have to do in television- shoot the video, hold the microphone and conduct the interview.