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Ware hands Coffee its first loss of the season

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Troy Taft pumps up the crowd following his key quarterback sack at the end of the second quarter in Friday night's game between the Coffee Trojans and Ware County Gators. Instead of being a game-defining play, Taft's sack was just a footnote in a disappointing region loss. Robert Preston, Jr./DouglasNow.com Troy Taft pumps up the crowd following his key quarterback sack at the end of the second quarter in Friday night's game between the Coffee Trojans and Ware County Gators. Instead of being a game-defining play, Taft's sack was just a footnote in a disappointing region loss.

When junior defensive lineman Troy Taft sacked Ware County’s quarterback for a 16-yard loss deep in Coffee territory at the end of the second quarter, it should have a game-defining play. Instead, it was a footnote in a painful 23-14 loss to the Gators in Jardine Stadium Friday night.

The Trojans were holding on to a slim 7-3 lead when a bad snap on a punt gave Ware the ball on Coffee’s 10 yard line. With time running out in the second quarter, the turnover should have resulted in a Gator touchdown and a halftime lead. Instead, the Coffee defense kept Ware at bay until, on third and 12, Taft sacked the quarterback for a huge loss. Ware threw an incomplete pass on fourth down and the Trojans took over on downs. The offense ran out the clock and went into the locker room with a four-point lead.

That kind of series often builds momentum and can catapult a team to victory. Notice that I said “often” and not “always.” In this case, Ware County made a few key adjustments at halftime. In the second half, it was the Gators’ defense that stymied the Trojans’ offense. For Coffee, special teams play and mental mistakes proved to be the Trojans’ undoing.

The Gators scored 10 points in the third and fourth quarters on two Coffee turnovers. Ware scored a touchdown following a Coffee fumble. Another errant snap during a punt on the Trojans’ next possession gave Ware County the ball with great field position. The Gators kicked a 26-yard field goal to take a 20-7 lead with nearly 10 minutes left in the game.

The Trojans answered by launching a 76-yard drive that ended with a short touchdown run by Demetrius Davis, his second of the night. The extra point was good and Coffee only trailed 20-14. The Gators, however, weren’t through. They kicked another field goal on their next possession, this one from 36 yards out to all but put the game out of reach for Coffee. With 2:23 left, the Gators had a comfortable 23-14 lead.

Led by quarterback Max Hughes, the Trojans made an attempt to get back on the scoreboard but the Ware defense proved to be too tough. The Gators made the short trip to Ware County with a 23-14 victory in the first region game for both teams.

“It was a disappointing game. I was very disappointed with how we played. Mistakes and our kicking game hurt us. We had two bad snaps and a fumble. You can’t beat good teams like Ware doing those kinds of things. But we don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to get back out there and get better,” said head coach Robby Pruitt following the game.

The Trojans are 2-1 on the season and 0-1 in region play. Next week, Coffee faces Glynn Academy on the road in Brunswick. All the games from here on out are region contests.

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