COLQUITT - The boys from Miller County don't get out much. But after Friday's 33-26 win over Brookstone in the first round of the GHSA Class A playoffs, they'll get one heck of a road trip.
The Pirates' first round win as Region 1-A's No. 2 seed will send them to the coast this week for a second round throwdown with Savannah Christian, which is the top seed from Region 3-A and will host after warding off Irwin County, 14-10 in the first round.
"We look forward to it," Miller head coach Frank Killingsworth said of this week's matchup in Savannah. "We don't get out of Colquitt much."
Miller defeated Savannah Christian, 20-13, in the second round last year, although that game was in Colquitt.
The Pirates rode Shawndre Sheffield's three touchdowns to victory Friday and held off a pesky Brookstone team that refused to go away. After trailing 27-6 at halftime, the Cougars (8-3) outscored Miller 14-0 in the third quarter to cut the lead to 27-20 entering the final 12 minutes.
"We got up (early) and had a few mental lapses," Killingsworth said. "They never gave up. They wouldn't go away. We knew if we could get the ball back, we could move it on them."
Pirates' star defensive end and tight end Juwan Jones answered with an 18-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Caleb Cunningham with 11:52 to play to give Miller (9-2) a 33-20 lead. Brookstone fired back with Jake Howard's 51-yard strike to Drew McCluskey to pull within a score, 33-26, with 5:05 remaining, but never could get the ball back.
"We wanted a shot at the end and we just couldn't get the ball back," Cougars' head coach Blair Harrison said. "We had some bad things happen early, but our kids played hard. To come in here and play them that tough, I'm really proud of the kids."
Brookstone fumbled twice in the first half, both leading to Sheffield touchdown runs, and also lost fullback/linebacker Joey Lewis to injury in the second quarter. Lewis scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to give the Cougars an early 6-0 lead.
Sheffield scored all three of his touchdowns in the first half and finished with 168 yards on 22 carries. Miller also got 106 rushing yards from Zanario Shuler, who added a 12-yard touchdown in the second half.
"The offensive line blocked well and (Sheffield) had good vision (Friday)," Killingsworth said. "He was seeing the field well."
Cunningham completed 3-of-8 passes, all to James, for 99 yards. Miller's defense slowed Brookstone's Wing-T attack and its McCluskey boys, Milton and Drew, holding them to a combined 74 yards rushing. Howard completed 8-of-17 passes for 186 yards, including a 60-yard scoring bomb to Drew Lingo.
Brookstone tight end and University of Alabama commit Brian Vogler was held to two catches for 29 yards.
--- For video highlights of this game, head to this address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuOd8Oxz0lU