MOULTRIE – It had been a month since Tift County had played a football game and, unfortunately, it showed when the Blue Devils traveled to Ocilla on Friday.
Because of positive COVID-19 diagnoses involving four players and coach Ashley Anders, the Tift County program had been shut down since a season-opening 7-0 loss at Crisp County on Sept. 4.
Games against Valdosta, Thomas County Central and Coffee had been canceled and when the Blue Devils were finally healthy, they had to travel to play defending Class A state champion Irwin County.
Tift threw five interceptions and lost a fumble and was unable to hold lead late in the third quarter.
Playing in the recently named Buddy Nobles Stadium, the two teams from neighboring counties left their locker rooms after halftime tied 14-14.
The Blue Devils took the lead on a touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Tyler Parker with 1:38 left in the third quarter, but the Indians blocked the extra point attempt.
Just seconds later, Irwin County quarterback Cody Soliday connected with Gabriel Benyard on an 80-yard touchdown pass and the extra point gave the Indians a 21-20 lead.
Irwin returned a pass interception for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to extend its lead to 28-20.
A 1-yard run by Irwin’s Kam Cash with 2:33 left put the game away.
Zach Carter led the Blue Devils’ offense, rushing for 68 yards on eight carries. Chrishon Stephens added 58 yards on 13 carries.
The game was the first meeting between Tift County and Irwin County since 2005. The two schools had not met in Ocilla since 1964.
Tift will attempt to get its first victory of the season when it travels to play 3-1 Worth County on Friday.
In Orange Park, Fla., Camden County raised its record to 4-1 with a 25-12 victory over Oakleaf High.
Oakleaf also lost to Lowndes back on Sept. 18, 37-12.
Sophomore quarterback Josh Brown threw two touchdown passes for the Wildcats and completed 8-of-9 throws in the second half.
His 34-yard touchdown pass to Deonte Cole put Camden up 16-6 in the third quarter.
Freshman Jordan Daily carried 21 times for 86 yards for the Wildcats.
Camden sacked Oakleaf quarterback Tre Simmons III seven times, with defensive end Hudson Tucker being credited with four of them.
Wildcats defensive end Deterias Glover blocked a pass attempt on the first play of the second half, picked the ball off and ran 20 yards to the end zone.
Oakleaf falls to 2-2.
Camden will be home next Friday to play host to Coffee. The Trojans are 3-1 after a 45-7 win over Glynn Academy last Friday.
Lowndes, ranked No. 2 in Class 7A, was off on Friday and will put its 4-0 record on the line this week against Valdosta in the annual Winnersville Classic at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
Valdosta was off on Friday after its scheduled game against Thomas County Central was canceled because of the coronavirus.
Three of Colquitt County’s other non-region opponents were in action on Friday.
Banneker, which dropped its season-opener 51-0 to the Packers, lost 7-6 to Jonesboro and falls to 0-2. Banneker will play at 1-3 Woodward Academy this week.
Northside-Warner Robins, which will play host to Colquitt County on Friday, was pounded at Richmond Hill 50-12.
The Eagles fall to 2-3 and have lost to their last two opponents – Warner Robins and Richmond Hill – by a combined 99-12.
Alcovy, which will again be Colquitt County’s homecoming opponent on Oct. 23, is 0-4 and will play at Lowndes on Oct. 16.
Carrollton, coached by Sean Calhoun, beat Dalton 34-24 to raise its record to 1-1.
The Trojans had not played since losing to Collins Hill 46-24 back on Sept. 5.
Carrollton will be home on Friday to play 2-2 Rome.
Tim Cokely’s White County Warriors were off last Friday and will put their 4-0 on the line in their Region 7-AAA open at 1-3 Dawson County.
North Forsyth dropped its first game of the season on Friday, falling 20-10 to Denmark.
The Robert Craft-coached Raiders, now 4-1, will be off this week and will play at West Forsyth on Oct. 16.
Thomasville was pounded by Oconee County 44-14 on Friday and drops to 2-3.
Off this Friday, Zach Grage’s Bulldogs will open Region 1-AA play at home against Early County on Oct. 16.
Dooly County, in Phillip Hale’s first season as head coach, has not yet played a game this season because of the virus.
The Bobcats still have a seven-game schedule ahead of them, starting with a home game against Dublin on Friday.
South Paulding is 2-2 under first-year coach Jason Nash after losing 22-20 at Rome last Friday.
The Spartans will be home to face 1-2 Dalton on Friday.
Reggie Stancil’s Peachtree Ridge Lions were off to a 3-0 start when their Oct. 2 and Oct. 9 games were canceled by the coronavirus.
Peachtree Ridge will be home to face Collins Hill on Oct. 16.