Eighth-ranked Pierce County did not look like a team that had played just once in the previous three weeks.
The Bears (6-1 overall, 2-0 Region 1-AAA) completely dominated over matched and winless Long County (0-9, 0-3) rolling to a 52-0 victory on Senior Night. The win marked the 35th for the senior class against eight losses.
For the second time in as many games, PCHS put 49 points on the board in the first half matching the school record set in the last game two weeks earlier against Brantley County. A running clock was implemented after the half.
If the Bears take care of business Friday on the road against Tattnall County (1-7, 1-2), a 26-21 victor over Brantley County (1-8, 1-2), it will set up a titanic winner-take-all match up November 20 with fifth-ranked and unbeaten Appling County.
Focus can sometimes be an issue for a team when its opponent is winless this deep into the football season. That wasn’t a problem for Pierce County.
The Bears led 28-0 after a quarter and 49-0 at halftime to empty the bench in the second half for a running clock.
“The kids had good focus and that’s sometimes hard when you’re playing a team that hasn’t won a game,” Bears head coach Ryan Herring said. “We had good focus from the start and kept it.”
Long County was held to minus -4 total yards and just two first downs — one on a penalty. The Blue Tide never had an offensive snap in Pierce County territory.
The Bears compiled an efficient 256 yards with 13 first downs. They scored touchdowns on six of their eight possessions in the first half and picked up their other score from their special teams on a blocked punt return.
Quarterback Jermaine Brewton was 7-for-9 passing for 152 yards and four touchdowns in two quarters to lead the romp.
“The main thing we wanted to do was play hard, play fast and play with class,” Herring said. “I thought the players did that. We didn’t have many penalties (3 for 37 yards), nothing pre-snap or post-snap and you’ll take that.”
Brewton spread his passes among four receivers and all found the end zone. Ty Miles had a 13-yard scoring reception and T-Votny Brewton added a seven-yarder in the first period while Maleek Chandel (53 yards) and A.J. Staten (29 yards) caught touchdown passes in the second.
The Bears had 10 players carry the ball in the game. D.J. Bell had a four-yard scoring run while L.J. Newton added another on a three-yard plunge.
Sophomore Jaquez White led the Bears in rushing with 39 yards on nine carries in relief of Brewton at quarterback in the second half. Pierce County even gave some carries to a pair of linemen with freshman Elijah Howard running five times for 25 yards and senior Jeffrey Gray gaining 13 yards on three runs.
“We were able to play a lot of kids and that’s always good,” Herring said.
John Manghir had the other Bears’ touchdown when he ran down a punt blocked by Danarius Johnson and returned it six yards midway through the first quarter. Robert Jacobs was perfect on seven conversion kicks while back-up Jonah Allen finished the scoring with a 27-yard field goal with 6:59 left in the game that followed an interception by Bryce Mulkey.
Long County also lost two of its three fumbles on the night and Pierce County converted both into scores.
Myles scooped up a pitch out that eluded running back Tony Phillips and returned it 15 yards to the Long 15-yard line in the game’s first minute. Two plays later, Bell dashed up the middle for his touchdown. It was Bell’s first action since suffering a sprained ankle against Fitzgerald nearly a month ago.
“He isn’t quite there yet, but he’s coming,” Herring said of the sophomore, who finished with 24 yards on five carries. “We wanted to see him plant on (ankle) and cut some to see how he’d do.”
After Maghir tallied for the special teams, Brewton tossed three of his touchdown passes over the next four minutes to extend the Bears’ lead. The senior found Myles in the back of the end zone off play action for the first, threw a wide receiver screen to his brother, T-Votny Brewton, for the second, then finished off the run by finding Chandel well behind the secondary on a post pattern.
The Blue Tide’s second lost fumble on a sack of quarterback Zion Ervin on his own 9-yard line led to Newton’s score with 10:12 left in the second quarter. After stopping Long County on a fourth-and-4 play from their own 41, Staten hauled in Brewton’s pass on another post pattern to finish the first-half scoring.
The Bears offense needed just one play to score on two of its possessions, only two plays to score on three and three plays to score on the sixth. Long County had minus-20 yards on 27 plays in the first half with the lone first down coming on a pass interference penalty with 4:34 left in the half.