Locust Grove running back Cortez McDowell (No. 1) tries to run for daylight in the Wildcats game at Tift County Friday. The Wildcats lost 41-7 in the non-region contest.
TIFTON — The Tift County Blue Devils took their opening drive 51 yards for a touchdown and never looked back as they defeated the Locust Grove Wildcats, 41-7.
Tift’s running attack gave the Wildcats problems all night as eight Tift rushers combined for 249 yards rushing, led by Rashad Daniels who racked up 118 yards and two touchdowns on 13 touches. Jakevin Jackson added 52 yards on six catches.
The Blue Devil defense also dominated for most of the game, as they held Locust Grove to two total yards in the first quarter and 165 yards of total offense, most of that coming on three drives. Tift was led on defense by Jack Lee, Rashad Parks and Austin McCant.
The opening drive for the Blue Devils took just under four minutes to complete, and was capped off by a seven-yard rushing touchdown by Daniels. After the extra point by Josue Perez the Blue Devils owned a 7-0 lead.
That was the score at the start of the second quarter, which opened with a missed field goal by the Blue Devils. Locust Grove was penalized for an illegal substitution though, giving the Devils a second chance.
Tift promptly took advantage, as Kris Miller completed a pass to Donnell Tuff for the second Tift score.
Miller and Tuff would hook up for another score later in the quarter. Miller finished the game completing 8 for 15 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Tuff pulled in four balls four 45 yards and two scores.
Locust Grove put together their best drive of the night to end the half, burning off the final 3:31 off the clock, before missing a field goal with two seconds left.
With the second half opening and a 21-0 lead, Tift started on their own 20. A couple plays later Tift fumbled at its own 33 yardline, where Locust Grove took over.
Moments later the Wildcats were bit by the turnover bug, as they fumbled themselves, where Ladarius Stewart scooped the ball up and returned it 35 yards to give Tift possession on the Wildcat 40 yardline.
Three plays later, Daniels pounded the ball in for his second score of the night.
After a Locust Grove three and out Tift took the ball over and moved it 45 yards in a minute and a half, where Gerald Pledger scored from three yards out.
Locust Grove’s struggles continued on the following kickoff, where they fumbled on their own 18, leading to the Blue Devils’ sixth touchdown of the night, scored by Stewart on a 14-yard run.
The Wildcats put together their second good drive of the night, burning eight minutes off the clock on a 13-play drive, but was cut short after not being able to convert on fourth down.
Locust Grove took over for their final possession on its 47, where the Wildcats give their crowd, who made the long trip to Tifton, something to cheer about as a runner broke up the middle for a 47-yard touchdown run.
The Blue Devils advance to 2-0 on the season, as the Wildcats fall to 0-1. Tift will try to continue their hot start next Friday at home against the Shiloh High Generals.