0Passes Had Intercepted0
by John Pate
This past Friday night, the Metter Tigers kicked off their 2021 season with an exciting 31-20 win over the visiting Swainsboro Tigers.
Metter came into the contest ranked number eight in the state, and Swainsboro was looking to avenge last season's loss, the first time Metter had beaten Swainsboro since 1955.
This year’s battle was much more even, with Swainsboro building a 20-9 lead early in the third quarter before the Metter Tigers came roaring back with 22 unanswered points to seize control of the game and seal the victory.
Both teams showed some early season rust, with a couple of fumbles and untimely penalties, and both teams also showed they have very dangerous offensive attacks. Metter amassed 340 yards of total offense Friday night, with 326 of those coming on the ground.
Antwan Coney was the leading rusher for the Orange and Black with 129 yards on ten carries, including a huge 62-yard run to drive the knife right into the heart of Swainsboro.
Josh Kelly flirted with the century mark, adding 92 yards on 13 carries, and quarterback Trey Hall found the end zone twice on his four touches.
This year’s Metter squad is one that is looking to replace some key senior leaders from last season as well as to fill in some injury holes that crept up early in this one. That may have been most apparent on the defensive side of the ball, as Metter gave up 326 yards of offense to Swainsboro.
Metter looked very susceptible to big plays in the secondary and did not tackle well in space. With Coach Rodney Garvin being one of the top defensive coaches in the state, by the fourth quarter the defense already looked more like what we saw last year, giving up just three yards of offense in the fourth quarter.
The defense was led by Ethan Oglesby with 11 tackles. Trey Hall added six tackles, and Danny Cheley had a big 44-yard fumble return.
Swainsboro won the coin flip and elected to receive the opening kickoff.
After a 16-yard return, they began their opening drive at the 21-yard line. They only moved the ball one yard before quickly being forced three and out.
Swainsboro punted the ball away, and Trey Hall led his Metter offense out for the first possession of the 2021 season.
The offense quickly got to work with Josh Kelly picking up 17 yards on the first hand-off of the season. Two plays later Antwan Coney picked up another first down on a 14-yard run to move Metter down to the red zone.
Metter worked the ball down to the Swainsboro 14-yard line where they faced a fourth and three situation.
Hall handed the ball off to the 235-pound Junior Antwan Coney. Coney banged his way up to the line to gain, but the ball was knocked loose. Swainsboro fell on the loose ball, ending the Metter threat and taking over at their own 11-yard line.
The Tigers in black and gold got their offense moving on this drive. They picked up two first downs and moved the ball out to the 34-yard line to get out of the shadow of their own goalpost, and on play number five the very impressive DeMello Jones got loose. He broke free on a 66-yard touchdown run to put Swainsboro on the board first. Following the Daron Coleman extra point, Swainsboro was out to a 7-0 lead.
Metter would answer right back on their very next possession. Josh Kelly started this drive off with a seven-yard run. Trey Hall picked up a first down with a 19-yard keeper, and a 15-yard penalty called against Swainsboro at the end of the play pushed the ball over midfield to the Swainsboro 39-yard line.
Antwan Coney carried the ball three straight plays on runs of 4 yards, 26 yards and 7 yards to move the ball all the way down to the seven. The six-play, 80-yard drive was capped off by a seven-yard touchdown run by Trey Hall. Hall faked the hand-off up the middle and kept it himself around the left side. He sidestepped one Swainsboro defender, then pin-balled his way over the goal line for the score. Zach Davis made the extra point to tie things up at 7-7.
The Swainsboro offense really looked to have found their stride as they continued to move the ball well on their third possession. They picked up two quick first downs and moved the ball over the 50 as the first quarter came to an end. They kept marching deep into Metter territory to start the second quarter as well.
Freshman Quin Brown showed his value as back on three straight runs, getting the ball all the way down to the one-yard line, and DeMello Jones punched it in. Daron Coleman’s kick was good to put Swainsboro back out front 14-7.
Danny Cheley got Metter’s next possession off to an exciting start with a 23-yard kickoff return to set Metter up near midfield at the 39-yard line, but Metter was not able to take advantage of the good field position. The home Tigers were forced to punt after a quick three and out.
A good punt from Zach Davis pushed the visitors back to their own 25-yard line. Two tackles for loss and a ten-yard penalty had Swainsboro pushed deeper into their own territory at the nine-yard line when a low snap bounded through the hands of Ty Adams and out the back of the end zone for a safety. The mishap put two points on the board for Metter and gave the good guys the ball.
A 15-yard Danny Cheley kick return set Metter up at the 39-yard line once again. Metter was able to move the ball with a little more success than the previous drive.
Trey Hall completed his only pass on the night, a 14-yard throw to Danny Cheley, for a first down. Josh Kelly picked up another first down on an 11-yard run to move Metter into the red zone, but the drive stalled out there.
On fourth and nine Zach Davis came on to attempt his first field goal of the season. The 33-yard attempt was struck well but missed wide left. Following the miss the score stood at 14-9 with Swainsboro leading, and that would be the score at the half.
Metter would get the ball following the break, but another mistake would bite the home squad. Danny Cheley fumbled the ball on the return and Swainsboro recovered it at the Metter 14-yard line. It only took Swainsboro two plays to cash in on the turnover.
Ty Adams called his own number on an 11-yard touchdown run, and following a missed extra point, Swainsboro extended their lead to 20-9. A bit of an uneasy feeling came over the home crowd.
Metter got the ball back, really needing to punch back and keep the game close. Following a 19-yard kick return by Trey Hall, the Metter offense took over at the 45-yard line. Metter started off this drive quickly with Danny Cheley picking up 16 yards and moving the ball into Swainsboro territory.
Cheley and Josh Kelly had back-to-back six yard runs to pick up another Metter first down. Josh Kelly nearly scored on the very next play, getting the ball all the way down to the one-yard line. Trey Hall would be the one to carry the ball over the goal line for Metter, forcing his way into the end zone on a quarterback sneak. Josh Kelly converted the two-point conversion to move Metter a little closer. With 7:45 remaining in the third quarter, Swainsboro still had the lead 20-17.
Swainsboro would take over at the 20-yard line following a touchback on the kickoff, and they were looking to grow their lead. They picked up a couple of first downs and moved the ball out near midfield to the 44.
On the sixth play of the drive as DeMello Jones was being dragged down, the ball popped free. Danny Cheley scooped up the loose ball in stride at the 44-yard line and there was nothing but green in front of him. The scoop and score not only gave Metter their first lead of the night, but it really re-energized the crowd and the sideline. Following another successful PAT by Zach Davis, Metter now led 24-20.
Neither team could find the end zone in the time remaining in quarter number three, so the game went into the fourth quarter still a close ballgame.
The Metter Tiger defense really dug in during the final quarter and held Swainsboro to just three yards on their two possessions.
The Metter offense wasn’t finished quite yet either. On Metter’s first possession of the fourth quarter they scored the game's final touchdown. Antwan Coney went in motion from the left side, took the hand off from Trey Hall, made one cut and found a hole big enough to drive a truck through. The big back turned it upfield and outran the Swainsboro defense all the way to the house. Zach Davis made it a perfect 3 for 3 on extra points to give Metter the 31-20 lead.
We spoke with Coach Garvin after the game to get his thoughts on the win: “We fought hard, especially in the second half. Getting down 20-9 early in the second half and coming back like we did showed character. I was very disappointed in our defense in the first half. We made a few adjustments at halftime and they paid off. Our offense began to wear down their defense and we punched in some scores to win 31-20.”
Score By Quarter
7- yard run
1- yard run
3 yard run,
Cheley 44-yard fum-