WAYNESBORO, Ga. — It was bad enough when Donquell Green had to chase down high snaps, sprinting toward his own end zone to salvage something on a play.
But the fans’ groans only became louder as more backwards mistakes ended in turnovers.
The Bears, ranked No. 2 in Class AAAA, jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter only to collapse in an avalanche of errors in a 32-14 loss to Class AAAAAA Coffee. Burke County had two turnovers, went through snap issues and committed 15 penalties as the Trojans scored the final 32 points in the game.
“It was not a good performance, especially on the offensive side of the ball,” Bears coach Eric Parker said. “You can’t make big-time mistakes and expect to beat good football teams.”
Without a second-half first down until almost midway through the fourth quarter, Burke County (1-1) often handed the Trojans a short field after penalties or huge losses on bad snaps.
And Coffee quarterback Tyree Paulk took advantage, throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns.
On the other side of the football, the Bears’ Green had 148 passing yards with two touchdowns and added 41 rushing yards, with the ground total cut down in part due to the snapping woes.
The Burke County offense was its own biggest obstacle even in the first half, committing 10 penalties and falling on two fumbles.
Still, Green’s speed on runs and wide-open receivers on pass plays allowed the Bears to atone for those miscues, at least early.
On consecutive touchdown drives in the opening quarter, the Bears successfully converted fourth-down attempts and also earned first downs on a few third-down plays.
The defense did its part most of the first 24 minutes, stopping the Trojans (3-0) on fourth down inside the 10 before Coffee got the big play it was searching for on a 45-yard passing strike from Paulk to make it 14-8 in favor of Burke County at the half.
But after Burke County scored on two of its first three possessions of the game, it didn’t score again in the next three quarters.
“That is a good football team,” Coffee coach Robby Pruitt said. “I don’t get caught up with classification; a good football team’s a good football team.”