Quarterback Jermaine Brewton threw for four scores and D.J. Bell ran for two more in the first 19 plus minutes leading Pierce County to a 50-6 Region 1-AAA victory over Tattnall County.
The victory for the eighth-ranked Bears (7-1 overall, 3-0 region) sets up a titanic battle Friday night in Baxley against fifth-ranked Appling County (7-0, 2-0) for the region championship.
The Pirates’ home game versus Brantley County Friday night was canceled earlier in the week because of COVID-19 concerns in the Herons’ program. The open date was the second in a row for Appling County following a pair of humiliations of Long County (69-12) and Tattnall County (70-0).
PCHS’s first unit ran just 15 plays and scored on 6-of-7 possessions in jumping out to a 43-0 lead by intermission. The Bears gained 327 yards (138 rushing — five rushes, 189 passing — 6-of-10) using just 5:17 of the first 24 minutes.
They also had four one-play scores covering 75 yards (Jermaine Brewton to A.J. Staten), 69 yards (D.J. Bell run — four carries, 131 yards), 64 yards (Bell run — first offensive snap), and 36 yards (Brewton to Maleek Chandel).
“We wanted to come out and score fast,” said head coach Ryan Herring. “They (Warriors) were playing zero coverage (man-to-man) and I said throw it. We wanted to get stops defensively and we accomplished that.”
It marked the third consecutive region game the Bears posted 43 points or more in the first half. Against both Brantley County and Long County, PCHS scored 49 points before intermission. The second halves were played with a running clock.
This time, it was 36-0 with 8:16 left in the first half when the Warriors’ coaching staff opted to have a running clock for the final 30 minutes.
“That is why we played a tough non-region schedule,” said Herring in referencing the 141-0 cumulative first-half scoring advantage. “I knew three teams in the region were going to be down this year and we needed to be tested heading into the final game at Appling County and beyond.”
While the offense was scoring at will, Pierce County’s starting defensive unit forced six three-and-outs (seven overall), picked off an errant pass (Austin Jernigan), and recorded a safety in the Warriors’ eight first-half possessions.
The Bears’ starters surrendered just 19 yards in 27 plays and one first down. The unit recorded nine of the 13 negative plays against the Tattnall County offense.
The Warriors’ lone touchdown came on a 62-yard run with 5:15 to play against the PCHS jayvee defense, which allowed 80 yards on Tattnall County’s final possession.
Pierce County made a statement early. After the first stop of the Warriors’ offense, Bell darted 66 yards on PCHS’s first snap for a 6-0 lead with 9:32 on the clock. A bobbled snap foiled the PAT of Robert Jacobs.
Jernigan’s interception of Jeremiah Mayner’s pass over the middle on Tattnall County’s second offensive series set up the Bears’ longest touchdown possession — four plays — of the half. Brewton found a streaking Ty Myles (two catches, 51 yards) on a 40-yard pass play for a 13-0 lead after Jacobs’ PAT with 5:19 left in the first quarter.
A shanked 10-yard punt by the Warriors set up Pierce County’s third score of the opening period. Brewton connected with Chandel for 36 yards on the ensuing snap upping the advantage to 20-0 with 3:23 on the clock.
Pierce County’s next possession was also one play following a punt. Bell darted off left tackle sprinting 61 yards as the lead grew to 27-0 with 1:01 to play in the quarter.
A bobble of the kickoff at the goal line by Tattnall County doomed the Warriors’ fifth possession, which started at their own five. PCHS’s defense swarmed Tattnall County ball carriers for consecutive losses, the last resulting in a safety on the first play of the second period for a 29-0 lead just seven seconds in.
The Bears were unable to capitalize on the shanked free kick from the Tattnall County 42 turning the ball over on downs after three incomplete passes and a stymied run.
Another punt by Tattnall County was followed by the last one-play score by the Bears. Brewton found Staten running behind a Warriors’ defender for a 75-yard score. The PAT by Jacobs increased the lead to 36-0 with 8:16 remaining in the half prompting a “white flag” by the Tattnall County head coach.
Pierce County’s last score of the quarter again followed a shanked punt. The Bears moved 34 yards in three plays with Brewton hooking up with Zay Plummer on a back shoulder fade at the front pylon covering 18 yards with 4:30 on the clock.
By the time Tattnall County next snapped the ball, over two minutes had run off the clock. That’s the way the rest of the game went.
PCHS’s jayvee opened the second half recovering an onsides kick, moving to the Warriors’ 10 before eventually settling for a 38-yard field goal attempt by Jonah Allen that missed wide right.
The next offensive possession went 47 yards for a touchdown with quarterback Jaquez White keeping on four of the five snaps. White raced 18 yards off left guard breaking away from two would-be tacklers in the Tattnall County secondary for the score. Jacobs added the PAT with 10:30 remaining in the game.
The Warriors averted the shutout with a 62-yard run off a jet sweep by Aaron Hankerson four plays and five minutes later. The two-point conversion attempt was no good.