HOMERVILLE — J.D. Burden ran rampant Friday night in Homerville, and the battle of Wing-T offenses went the way of Hawkinsville, as the Red Devils (9-3) dominated possession to knock off Clinch County (8-4) 23-8 and clinch a berth in the single-A semifinals.
Burden amassed 198 yards rushing in the game for the Red Devils, 184 of which came in a monster first-half performance, to help Hawkinsville get out to a quick start early against Clinch County.
Hawkinsville got on the board early when the first of many bad snaps from Clinch County went awry and ended up rolling out of the back of the end zone for a safety. On the Red Devils’ following drive, Hawkinsville senior quarterback Dakota Sloan scored on a three yard quarterback sneak to put his team up 9-0. Seven minutes later, Burden got his night rolling with a seven yard plunge to push the Red Devils even further ahead.
Trailing 16-0 just midway through the second quarter, it was simply too difficult for Clinch County to generate offense. With such a ground-based offense, the Panthers were forced to throw the ball much more than they would’ve liked, and those passes were simply not effective.
Clinch County quarterback Octavius Johnson finished the game completing only 5 of 12 passes for 24 yards. Johnson was the Panthers’ leading rusher as well, rushing for 115 yards on seven carries and adding a touchdown.
Clinch cut the Hawkinsville lead to 16-8 minutes before halftime, but on the following drive, Red Devils running back J.D. Burden delivered the play of the night. Burden, who played B-back for almost every snap, received the handoff from Sloan and broke six tackles and eluded several more Clinch defenders on his way to reaching the end zone. The run pushed the lead to 23-8 at the half, and Hawkinsville simply did not relinquish the lead, or their momentum, for the rest of the night.