Swainsboro wins battle of Tigers, 14-7

 Taj Hobbs (4) and two Tiger teammates triple team a Swainsboro runner.

The Metter Tigers suffered a heartbreaking loss at home this past Friday, falling to the Swainsboro Tigers 14-7 in a thrilling match-up. The Swainsboro Tigers came into Friday’s game with a 3-1 record and they were ranked as the number six 2A school in the state of Georgia. 

 Swainsboro also extended their streak to six straight wins over Metter with the victory. Both the Home and away stands were filled to near capacity as a great crowd was on hand to watch the highly anticipated contest. 

 Metter won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half so Swainsboro would be on the receiving end of the opening kick-off. 

 Swainsboro’s Cedric Seabrough fielded the kick, but he was immediately hit and brought down for a zero yard return at the 31 yard line. Swainsboro was a little too anxious to get things going as the first thing they did was jump offsides. The five yard penalty pushed them back to the 26. The next play was a six yard pass that made up the penalty yardage, but play three was a negative one yard run that brought up a third down and 10 situation. The next play for Swainsboro was a Kade Youmans pass that was nearly intercepted by CJ Donaldson. Donaldson’s pass break up brought up fourth and 10 and forced Swainsboro to punt the ball away. 

 The Metter defense has been great this season on their opponents’ opening drives. In six games, the defense has only allowed one team to gain a first down on their opening possession, forcing three fumbles and two 3 and outs. Cole Bell came out to handle the punting duties for Swainsboro and he got off a great 47 yard punt that was hauled in by Metter’s Austin Carlyle at the 21 yard line. 

 Carlyle was only able to return the ball three yards before being tackled at the 24 yard line where the Metter offense tookover. 

 Metter opened their first drive of the game with a six yard run by Antwan Coney. That was followed up by a one yard run by Ahmod Collins, but after Aaron Collins was stopped for no gain on play number three Metter was forced to punt. Zach Davis came out to punt the ball away and he booted a 47 yard kick down to the Swainsboro 22 yard line where there was no return. 

 The Swainsboro offense came back onto the field and they found much more success on this drive. Ja’von Brown started things off with an eight yard run. Quarterback Kade Youmans threw three straight passes connecting on two of them for six and ten yards. On the next play Robert Allen broke loose on a 44 yard run out over midfield  and all the way down to the Metter 10 yard line. The Metter defense didn’t give up any points too easily as they forced Swainsboro into a fourth and goal from the one. Swainsboro elected to go for the touchdown and they converted on a Robert Allen plunge from one yard out. Cole Bell was good on the PAT and Swainsboro took an early 7-0 lead. 

 Metter got the ball back at the 39 following the kick-off and a four yard return by Walker Dollar. The Metter offense got things rolling themselves, turning to the run game to drive the ball downfield. Antwan Coney started this drive off with a 23 yard run that moved the ball over the 50 and into Swainsboro territory. Ahmod Collins and Taj Hobbs alternated the next three carries to pick up another first down and move the ball down to the 28 yard line where the first quarter came to an end. 

 As the second quarter began the Metter drive continued. Taj Hobbs connected with Antwan Coney on a 16 yard pass to move the ball inside the ten yard line down to the seven. Coney’s next rush lost three yards, but a Swainsboro penalty moved the ball ahead five yards to the five yard line. 

 The next two rushes got the ball all the way down to the two yard line before the fumble bug struck at another very costly moment. The ball fell to the turf and the Swainsboro defense fell on it at the three yard line. Swainsboro took possession deep in their own territory and had 97 yards of field to cover. Kade Youmans connected with Cedric Seabrough for a 22 yard pass on the first play to get Swainsboro out of the shadow of their own goal post. Metter stuffed Robert Allen on his next two rushing attempts to bring up a third and nine. Youmans threw the ball on third and nine and the pass fell incomplete, but a pass interference call against Metter gave Swainsboro a first down and kept the drive alive. On the next play Robert Allen got loose again and this time ran for 26 yards to move the ball over midfield and to the Metter 33. An incomplete pass and a two yard run on the next two plays set up another third and long for Swainsboro. Youmans connected with his favorite target, Cedric Seabrough, on two straight passes of 16 and 10 yards for back to back first downs and to move the ball down to the five yard line. 

 A very scary moment with 2:51 to go in the half: Following a two yard run by Robert Allen, Metter’s John Simmons went down on the play and did not get up. The medical staff worked with Simmons for a long time and he was sitting up, but they decided to bring out a stretcher and immobilize Simmons to be cautious. The Metter defense surrounded their injured teammate and wished him well as he was taken off the field. The crowd was happy to see Simmons give a thumbs up signaling he was feeling well, all things considered. While everyone hoped for the best for the injured Tiger the game would go on. 

 Robert Allen carried the ball for a short one yard gain to bring up third and three. Swainsboro was not able to convert the third down this time as Kade Youmans was dragged down in the backfield. Youmans tossed the ball in a desperation pass attempt as he was falling and was flagged for intentional grounding. The loss on the play combined with the penalty yardage added up to a total of 22 yards lost. This pushed Swainsboro back to the 24 where they were facing a fourth and goal. Youmans was able to connect with Fredrick Seabrough, but the Metter defense tackled him at the two yard line to force a turnover on downs. Metter took over at their own two yard line with less than two minutes remaining in the half. Metter was able to pick up two first downs rushing the ball and moving out to the 22 yard line, setting up one final play before halftime. On the final play Taj Hobbs threw a pass to Ahmod Collins who caught it and ran 53 yards over midfield before being run out of bounds at the 35. A block in the back was called on the play but Swainsboro declined the penalty to send the game to halftime. 

 Metter received the second half kick-off and after a short five yard return they had it at their own 32. This drive started with a Metter offsides penalty that moved the ball back to the 27. Aaron Collins made most of that yardage up on the next play with a four yard run. Taj Hobbs completed a 14 yard pass to Cameron Robinson for a first down and to move the ball out near midfield. Aaron Collins carried the ball for another four yard run and Taj Hobbs moved the ball over the 50 with his own three yard run, but, following an incomplete pass on third and three, Metter decided to punt on fourth down. Zach Davis got off another good punt, this time a 37 yard kick that rolled down to the 11 yard line. 

 Swainsboro took over there. This drive started with an incomplete pass, but a 15 yard penalty called against Metter gave Swainsboro a free first down and moved the ball out to the 26. On the next play it was Robert Allen breaking free again. Allen picked up 30 yards on this run moving Swainsboro into Metter territory to the 44 yard line. The next play Metter got to Kade Youmans in the backfield and again he tried  to throw the ball up as he was being sacked and he was again flagged for intentional grounding. A total loss of 16 yards this time. 

 In the next play Youmans dropped back to pass, but no one was open. He scrambled out of the pocket and was running near midfield when a Metter defender absolutely crushed him. Youmans’ helmet went tumbling up field and the ball was jarred loose. Metter fell on the ball and took over possession at their own 48. Thankfully, Youmans was not hurt by the violent hit and he quickly popped up and jogged off the field. The big hit did fire up both teams and both fan bases.

 The Metter offense came out to a very loud home crowd. Aaron Collins started the drive with an eight yard rush down to the Swainsboro 44. Back to back false start penalties threatened to derail the drive before it could really get going, pushing the ball back into Metter territory. Following a two yard Ahmod Collins run, Taj Hobbs found his big tight end, TJ Davis, on a 13 yard pass and catch. A 15 yard penalty called against Swainsboro tacked onto the end of the play moved the ball all the way down to the 23. Taj Hobbs kept the ball himself on the next play and picked up five yards. Another Swainsboro penalty was called and added to the end of the run. This time it was half the distance to the goal, moving the ball down inside the ten to the nine yard line. 

 In the very next play Aaron Collins ran the ball nine yards into the endzone for a touchdown. Zach Davis split the uprights to tie the game 7-7 in the third quarter. Following the touchdown Swainsboro got the ball back. Zach Davis’ kick-off was caught by Ja’von Brown at the 19 yard line and he returned it 25 yards to the 44 where the Swainsboro offense took over. Swainsboro did not have much luck on this drive. Two incompletions and a negative two yard run brought out Cole Bell to punt the ball away. He got off a 31 yard kick with no return down to the Metter 27. The Metter offense couldn’t get anything going either. The first two plays lost seven yards and on third down Aaron Collins picked up eight yards to bring up fourth and nine and force another Metter punt. This Zach Davis’ punt traveled 27 yards over the 50 and to the 45 where the Swainsboro offense had it with under a minute remaining in the third quarter. Swainsboro ran two plays before letting the clock run down to take the game into the fourth quarter. 

 The first play of the fourth quarter was a 33 yard pass from Kade Youmans to Fredrick Seabrough to take the ball down to the Metter 20 yard line. A Metter penalty on the end of a Ja’von Brown run moved the ball all the way down to the 7. 

 The Metter defense was looking for another goal line stand. Back to back runs of three yards each had the ball down to the one. Kade Youmans tried the quarterback sneak, but the Metter defense stuffed it for a short gain. This brought up fourth and inches with the nose of the football right at the goal line. Swainsboro was flagged for a false start backing them up five yards. 

 Now, with the situation fourth and goal from the six yard line, Swainsboro decided to pass the ball. Youmans threw up a 50-50 ball to the front corner of the endzone and the six foot four inch Cedric Seabrough went up and made the catch, a six yard touchdown pass to give Swainsboro the lead late in the game. Following the Cole Bell kick the lead was 7-14. 

 Following the kick-off and an eight yard return by Aaron Collins, the Metter offense had the ball at their own 33, needing to answer back. The rushing attack was moving the ball with Aaron Collins, Ahmod Collins, and Antwan Coney all alternating runs. Metter drove the ball up to the 50 where Taj Hobbs found Cameron Robinson on an 11 yard pass to move into Swainsboro territory and down to the 39. On the next play Taj Hobbs kept the ball himself, looking to get to the edge and cut upfield when the ball was knocked loose. 

 Another devastating fumble recovered by Swainsboro ended the drive at the 36 where Swainsboro took over. The Metter defense was far from giving in. They came out and didn’t allow Swainsboro to go anywhere but back. 

 Swainsboro was flagged on three straight plays backing them down to their own 13. Following a three yard rush and an incomplete pass they were forced to punt from their own 16. Following a 42 yard punt by Cole Bell and a two yard return by Danny Cheley, The Metter offense took over near midfield at the 44 with 1:40 to go in the game. 

 Taj Hobbs threw the ball to Walker Dollar for a six yard gain on play one. Hobbs’ pass attempt to Ahmod Collins on second down fell incomplete. On third and four Hobbs connected with Ahmod Collins for a two yard pass bringing up fourth and two. With the game on the line and only about 90 seconds left on the clock, the Metter offense came to the line. The ball was snapped and handed off to Ahmod Collins, but Collins was hit right away and stopped for no gain. A turnover on downs ended the drive and any hopes for a Metter victory. 

 Swainsboro came out in the “victory” formation and knelt down three times to run out the clock and escape The Jungle with the 7-14 victory.  

 Here are Coach Rodney Garvin’s thoughts on the game:

 “First, I want to say I am so proud of how our community came out and supported our team on Friday night. It’s easy to pull for a team that plays as hard as these guys do.  We need to continue to build and create a home field advantage every time we play.  The noise and excitement really increases our players’ intensity! Keep it up! 

 “Swainsboro came over here ranked #6 in the state and I guess they left the same, but our guys played their hearts out, and if not for a late turnover by Metter, I believe we could have tied the game; we just didn’t get it done at the end of the game.” 

 He continued with, “Defensively,  freshman Kaliq Collins led all Tigers with 9 tackles including a sack and part of another tackle for loss.  Freshman CJ Donaldson had another big night with 7 tackles including a sack and 2 passes defended.  Defensive backs Danny Cheley and Austin Carlyle also made several plays to help hold down Swainsboro’s offense. Sophomore Zach Davis not only kicked extra points but filled in as punter and did a great job all night.  Metter is currently 1-1 in region play and will travel to Alma for a key region matchup on Friday, October 18.   We are open this week and will use this time to heal up and make corrections as we prepare for Bacon County.”

 The Metter Tigers will be off next Friday night before going on the road to Bacon County and Bryan County in back to back weeks, then the Tigers return home November 1st for Homecoming.

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