Ware turns the tables, beats Coffee after Trojans jump out to early 14-0 lead
- Written by Robert Preston
- Published in Sports
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We’ve already seen a team take an early lead only to let the game slip away late in the fourth quarter. It happened last week when the Brunswick Pirates lost to the visiting Coffee Trojans after jumping out 14-0. It happened again today, only this time it was the Trojans getting out to a 14-0 advantage before inexplicably letting the wheels come off and eventually losing to the Ware County Gators 30-27 in Waycross.
The two teams played the game on 1 p.m. Saturday due to Hurricane Hermine, which rolled through South Georgia and dumped a boatload of rain on the area Friday. The delay didn’t seem to affect the Trojans one bit. Coffee scored on its first possession when quarterback Max Hughes found Dalrone Donaldson for a 58-yard touchdown. Jose Rodriguez’s foot was true and Coffee took a 7-0 lead with 9:49 left in the first quarter. The Trojans opted for a short kick on the ensuing kick-off, which Ware fumbled. Coffee’s Demetrius Davis recovered the fumble and one play later, Hughes hit Milton Jackson for a 39-yard touchdown. Rodriguez made the kick and, 10 seconds after scoring their first touchdown, the Trojans were up 14-0.
That’s when the troubles began.
Coffee continued to move the ball, launching an 83-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass from Hughes to Wade Sumner. However, a pass interference call nullified the score and forced Coffee to kick a field goal. The 36-yard attempt was no good and the Trojans handed the ball to the Gators. After forcing a Ware punt, Coffee took over on their own 46. Hughes and company picked up where they left off on the previous drive and marched down the field. They moved the ball to the Ware two-yard line before turning the ball over on a fumble.
The Gators didn’t take advantage of the Trojans’ miscue. However, it wouldn’t be long before they snapped out of their funk and made Coffee pay for the missed opportunities. Neither team scored until under two minutes in the first half. That’s when the Gators came alive and scored a pair of touchdowns – one of which came on another Coffee fumble – and went into halftime tied 14-14.
It was more of the same early in the third quarter. The Gators got the ball first and punted. Coffee took over with pretty good field position. However, a Gator defender hit Hughes on his blind side and knocked the ball loose. Ware recovered and scored another touchdown to take a 21-14 lead with 7:06 left in the third quarter. Coffee tied the score at 21 on a 58-yard touchdown pass from Hughes to senior receiver Adam Solomon.
The Gators scored again to go up 28-21, a lead they held until late in the fourth quarter. Though the Trojans were struggling, they still managed to get within one on a 32-yard Demetrius Davis touchdown run with 4:55 left in the game. Coffee went for two and missed; the Gators held on to a tiny one-point lead late in the game.
And that’s when the Trojans committed their last – and costliest – mistake. Coffee held Ware on its ensuing possession and forced another punt. The Trojan offense took over on their own four-yard line. The normally cool-headed Hughes rolled out looking for a receiver. Under pressure from the Ware defense, he threw the ball away from his own end zone. The officials called intentional grounding – an automatic safety. The points gave Ware a 30-27 lead and the ball. With 2:20 left in the game, Ware ran out the clock and notched their third win in a row against Coffee.
“We just made too many mistakes. They’ve got a good football team but we beat ourselves. We turned the ball over too many times and we had some costly penalties. It should have been over in the first half. We’ve got to learn from this and move on,” said head coach Robby Pruitt after the game.
The Trojans have a couple of weeks to get their bearings straight. They are off next week before playing five home games in a row. Their next game is Friday, Sept. 16 against University Christian of Jacksonville, Fla. The Trojans are now 2-1 on the 2016 season.