When officials notified the Evans sideline that an inadvertent whistle had ruined a potential momentum-turning, goal-line fumble recovery, the Knights’ coaching staff couldn’t believe their misfortune.
Elbert County got another stab at third-and-goal, and two plays later a short touchdown run proved to be a pivotal moment.
The Blue Devils racked up 427 rushing yards Friday night, using a number of big plays to earn a 38-7 victory over Evans.
The 2-yard touchdown run after the early whistle put the Blue Devils (1-2) ahead 24-7. Before the call, the Knights (1-1) thought they had recovered a fumble in the end zone to keep the deficit at 10 points.
“We’ve got to be able to handle that type of adversity,” Evans coach Marty Jackson said. “It was tough. That was a tough call, but that wasn’t the only thing in the game. But it certainly was a momentum changer.”
That scoring play was Tyshon Dye’s only one of the night, but the senior still had an impressive performance. The Clemson recruit carried 13 times for 129 yards, and he also caught freshman quarterback Mecole Hardman’s only completion of the night for 44 yards.
Fellow senior K’taro Cade had 13 rushes for 146 yards and had scoring runs of 74 and 21 yards.
Elbert County had 17 first downs and was able to control the clock after gaining the early lead.
For Evans, junior Chandler Shoemaker showed off a strong, accurate arm all night. He completed 11 of 25 passes for 88 yards, a line that could have been better if not for a number of drops by Knights receivers.
Junior Joacinto Grimes caught six of those passes for 62 yards.
On the ground, Evans had trouble consistently moving the ball. Junior Ronnie Graham had 12 carries for 42 yards, while the team rushed for only 54 yards.
Elbert County led 17-0 at halftime after touchdown runs by Hardman and Cade. Evans replied with a 1-yard plunge by Shoemaker to get within 10.
After going up by 17 on the second chance at the goal line, the Blue Devils got a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to turn the game into a rout. R.J. Jones returned a Shoemaker interception 72 yards for a score, then Cade went 74 yards for his second score.
A bright spot for Evans came in the punting game. Senior Jacob Rizner punted six times for an average of 43.5, including a 57-yarder.