By Steve Carter
Special to the Clayton News Daily
TIFTON -- Home was never so sweet for the Tift County Blue Devils football team as it was Friday night. A week after falling 40-26 at Fitzgerald, the Devils returned to the friendly confines of Brodie Field Friday night. Led by freshman Tadric Jackson's 220 yards of combined offense, the Devils thrilled the home crowd with a 34-7 win over the visiting Locust Grove High Wildcats.
Jackson missed last Friday's game after suffering from heat problems, but he got the start at quarterback for the Devils Friday and quickly impressed as he led Tift on an 8-play, 70-yard scoring drive after receiving the opening kickoff. Jackson ended the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run with 8:12 left.
The freshman was 3-for-3 passing on the drive for 40 yards, and carried the ball two times for 17 yards.
After a missed field goal by Locust Grove, the Devils drove 80 yards for another touchdown. This score came on a 20-yard run by Jackson.
Following Griffin Martin's second point after on the night, the score was 14-0 in favor of Tift with 2:43 left in the first quarter.
Martin would later add a 36-yard field goal with 4:30 left in the second quarter to complete Tift's first half scoring as the Devils went into the halftime break with a 17-0 lead.
A fumble recovery by Locust Grove's Josh Leavens in the third quarter deep in Tift County territory led to the Wildcats' only score of the night as Quad Marshall went in from three yards out on the only play of the short drive.
Martin would answer with a 37-yard field goal on Tift's next possession with 3:33 left in the third.
Gerald Pledger, 9-yard run, and Zach Mangelsdorf, 16-yard run, completed Tift's scoring in the fourth quarter. Martin had the point on the first touchdown, while Benni Ruff connected on the second point after.
Jackson ended the game with eight carries for 113 yards rushing, and he was 10-for-18 passing for 107 more yards.
Rashad Daniels added 10 carries for 42 yards. D.D. Jackson and Trent Hillman each had three catches for 30 yards in the contest for the Devils.
Quarterback Slater Eckert had 11 carries for 72 yards to lead Locust Grove (0-1).
Tift ended the game with 368 yards of total offense, while Locust Grove had 188.
The Blue Devils (1-1) will be back home next Friday for an 8 p.m. contest against the Shiloh Generals.