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Devils Defeat Irwin to win 1st Region Game

The Hawkinsville Red Devils used a second half surge to defeat the visiting Irwin County Indians at Bobby Gentry Stadium tonight. Early in the first quarter, both teams had possessions but were forced to punt. On Irwin's second punt Fabian Forrest called a fair catch which he made -- but an interference penalty on Irwin gave the Devils good field possession as the penalty was tacked on to the end of the play. The Devils used the ground game and came up 4th and 1 near the Indians 30. Fabian got the needed yardage for the first down. A few plays later Forrest drove in from four yards out behind good blocking to put the Devils on the board. Don Vickers added the PAT. The Indians responded by going on a long drive. During the possession the Indians successfully converted three 4th down conversions. A play action pass for a TD put the Indians on the board. Perhaps, a key play in the game occurred next. On the ensuing PAT attempt, Fabian Forrest blew in from the edge and blocked the PAT leaving the Devils up 7-6. The fired up Indians held the Devils and forced a punt. It was then that the Devils got to see the Indian's wing-T attack work to perfection as senior Kevious Johnson took a handoff and sprinted some 80 yards "to the house" to give the Indians a 12-7 lead. The Indians' try for a two point conversion failed as the Devils defensive line stood up and made a stop just shy of the goal line. The first half ended later with the Indians nursing a 12-7 lead. It would not stand up.

The second half started with the Devils kicking off. Maybe it was a sign of things to come -- but the Devil defense rose up and stopped the Indians on a quick "3 and out" series. The Devils were eventually forced to punt. Once again, the Devils defense forced the Indians into a "3 and out" and forced a punt. The Indians punter had the ball go off the side of his foot and only came up with a 17 yard punt that gave the Devils excellent field position deep inside Indian territory at the 23. After one TD was called back, Fabian Forrest sprinted in from 12 yards out to give for the score -- Don Vickers PAT put the Devils on top 14-12. Once again, after the kickoff the Devil defense came up with another -- you guessed it -- "3 and out". On the punt, Forrest got a good return of 27 yards to set the Devils up in Indian territory. From there the Devils went to work. It was four Fabian Forrest runs mixed in with one roughing the passer penalty and the Devils led 20-12. In this writer's opinion - the absolute key play in the game was the ensuing PAT. Don Vickers was true under heavy pressure to give the Devils a 21-12 lead -- key point here is that is a "two score" lead. The Devil defense never let the Indians get a good drive going and eventually a 4th down reverse by the Indians was smelled out by the Devils and knocked down for a huge loss by J'Vonne Thomas and Martavius Jenkins. The Devils got into the victory formation and ended the game.

The game was special for several reasons. First, it was a region game -- and our first region game. Secondly, anytime a team comes from behind at half to win, you know that the coaches and players made the necessary halftime adjustments and executed them in the 2nd half. I am not exactly sure what Defensive CO Will Conner said to his defensive troops at half -- but whatever it was he needs to say it every week. I don't have first half yardage vs. second half yardage but the Devil defense definitely played a very good 2nd half against a dangerous Irwin County Indian team, who has players to go the distance on any play. A "GAME BALL" for sure goes to the entire defensive unit. Another "GAME BALL" should go to placekicker and punter Don Vickers. He not only nailed the key PAT to give the Devils a "two score lead" but he got off good punts that were unreturnable under heavy pressure. With under two minutes to go in the game and with the Devils backed up, he got off a 45 yard punt -- once again against heavy pressure as the Indians went for the block -- and backed the Indians up. Additionally, the punt had not attempted return.

Anytime you win there are numerous players and units that perform well. I wanted to point out a couple that don't always garner the most attention -- the defense and the special teams. As is the "expected norm" Fabian Forrest had a big night rushing with some 160 yards on 30 carries and 3 TDs. The offensive line and other blockers really blocked well to give Fabian some running room against what appeared to be an almost "9 man front" at times.

The Devils travel to Vienna to take on the Dooly County Bobcats next week in the Grove.

Be there early -- be loud -- and be proud -- we ARE the Hawkinsville Red Devils.

Go Big Red!

by Andy Hill - 10/2/09

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