SWAINSBORO - Second year Head Coach Lee Hutto knew it would be a tough game - especially with his Warren County team playing as bummed up as they were and trying to defend the wishbone offense of the Swainsboro Tigers.
On both counts, his concerns couldn't have been more correct.
As a result, the Tigers came away with a 31-21, one-hour and 20-minute weather delayed victory. The loss was the Screaming Devils' first this season - their lone victory coming against Washington-Wilkes in the season opener.
A number of Warren County players came into the game against Swainsboro nursing various injuries of which Coach Hutto alluded to during a pre-game interview.
"We've got a lot of players bummed up," Coach Hutto said. "I wish we could have had another week off just to get healed up a little more before resuming our schedule."
One of Warren County's outstanding players never saw any action. Reginald Johnson injured his right knee in the Washington-Wilkes game and is under a doctor's care, awaiting an MRI today (Thursday).
"We're going to miss Reginald for the game against Swainsboro," Coach Hutto said. "I just hope the rest of the team can pick up the slack."
Just before the game was set to begin, ominous clouds surrounded the Swainsboro stadium. Vivid lightening later lit up the sky and a public address announcer quickly advised fans to leave their seats and return to their vehicles for safety purposes.
The game finally got underway at 8:50 p.m. It didn't end until 11:26 p.m.
It didn't take long for things to go wrong for the Screaming Devils once the game got underway. In fact, it happened on the very first play of the game.
Warren County senior quarterback Tommy Seals looked to his right after receiving the snap from center, trying to find an open receiver. The play was ruled a fumble instead of an incomplete pass. Just that quick, the Swainsboro Tigers find themselves in business at the Screaming Devils' 12. Just one play later, the Tigers were on the scoreboard on a three-yard run by Malcolm Early.
On the ensuing kickoff, Swainsboro pulled off a surprising onsides kick, which they recovered at the 50. Again, they were back in business with their wishbone offense, engineered by senior quarterback Rashad James.
Warren County's defensive unit responded, though, forcing the Tigers to punt. When they could get nothing going offensively, the Screaming Devils were forced to punt the ball back to the Tigers, who mounted their second scoring drive of the game. It ended on a 23-yard pass from James to Darrien Davis. Pablo Silva's extra point put the Tigers up 14-0 with 2:03 left to play in the opening quarter.
The Tigers took a three touchdown lead, 21-0, when Kawaskie Coleman dove into the end zone from a yard out with 9:40 to play in the second quarter.
Warren County's Dominigue Menchaca returned the ensuing kickoff 17 yards to set up what would turn out to be the Screaming Devils' first touchdown of the game.
Later, faced with a fourth down and one situation, Warren County had decided to punt the ball away before calling a time-out to discuss the matter a little more. They decided to go for it - Seals running for the needed first down yard.
Warren County was faced with another fourth down play on the same drive. It was at that time that Seals pulled off a fake, breaking loose on a long run that got his team to the Swainsboro 22. Kentrell Latimore later scored on a two-yard run. The two-point conversion pass was thrown from Seals to Travis Burley, making it a 21-8 game at halftime.
The Screaming Devils scored twice more - both touchdowns coming in the fourth quarter. Freshman Coby Reynolds scored on a 14-yard run. C.J. Williams booted the extra point, making it a 31-15 game.
In a last ditch effort to score again, Seals and company were backed up at their own 20 when the quarterback took matters into his own hands. He darted would-be tacklers and cut across the grain on the Warren County sidelines, running as fast as he could to score on an 80-yard play with no time left on the clock.
Seals finished the game as the team's leading rusher for the second time this season. He rushed 13 times for 124 yards. Other rushes were recorded by teammates Coby Reynolds, 6-76; Devarrus Reynolds, 10-37; Kentrell Latimore, 7-12; Van Williams, 1-3; and Menchaca, 1-(-4).
Seals also completed 3-11 passes for 70 yards - all three completions being made by Travis Burley. One of his passes was intercepted.
Overall, the Screaming Devils rushed 38 times for a total of 248 yards. Swainsboro rushed a total of 31 times for a total of 114 yards. The air route was the difference - the Tigers completing 11 of 28 passes for 212 yards.
Warren County 21
Star of the game: Swainsboro quarterback Rashad James threw for 212 yards and rushed 15 yards.
Play of the game: Swainsboro's Tigers recovered a fumble on the first play of the game, which set the stage for their first touchdown. A second one followed, helping them to an early 14-0 lead.
Up next: Warren County, now 1-1, will play host to Jefferson at home this Friday night at Legion Field in Warrenton. Game time is 7:30 p.m.