The Charlton County Indians fell to 1-2 on the season after dropping a 40-20 decision to a much larger and physical Appling County team last Friday night at “The Swamp” in Folkston.

The Pirates dominated the line of scrimmage rushing for over 400 yards, but the youthful Indians battled back from an early deficit to show some promise for the future.

Appling received the opening kickoff and drove down to the Indian 40 yard line before a blitz by Seaquan Clark led to a sack forcing a punt.

But on the first play from scrimmage from the 14, the Indians had the snap sail over the quarterback’s head and the Pirates recovered on the four yard line. Two plays later, Appling scored on a one-yard run. After the PAT kick, the Pirates led 7-0 at the 7:07 mark of the first quarter.

Another bad snap led to lost yardage on Charlton’s next drive and the Indians got off a short punt giving Appling the ball at their own 43. It would take just five running plays to cover the distance with the Pirates scoring on an eight-yard run at the 2:36 mark. The PAT kick gave Appling 14-0 lead.

Charlton was unable to pick up a first down, giving the Pirates the ball back after a 40-yard punt by Keith Harris. The Tribe was able to stand up and force a fumble that Caleb Milton recovered at the 25 yard line.

But the Tribe couldn’t take advantage of good field position and turned the ball over on downs. Appling drove into Indian territory, but Milton would recover another fumble to stop the Pirate drive.

After another Indian punt, the Pirates struck quickly. On second down from their own 35 Appling threw a lateral out wide and the Pirate caught the ball, broke free from a tackles, and outraced the Indian defenders to the end zone. After the PAT kick, the Pirates led 21-0 with 3:31 left in the half.

After an exchange of punts, the Indians would pick up first downs on a ten yard run by Jaylen Lilley and a 17-yard pass from Jaylen King to Zuryan Williams. But an interception killed the drive and the half came with the Pirates leading 21-0.

After receiving the second-half kickoff, the Tribe was forced to punt and the Pirates took over from their own 45. Two quarterback runs of 16 and 39 yards covered the distance in two plays and the Appling lead grew to 28-0.

The Indian offense showcased the abilities of freshman running back Lilley on their next possession. Lilley rushed four times for 37 yards, caught a nine yard pass and capped the drive off by completing a 15-yard jump pass to Randy Nelson to put the Tribe on the board. The pass for two points failed and the Indians trailed 28-6 at the 6:28 mark of the third quarter.

But the momentum would be short lived as the Pirates returned the kickoff 43 yards and covered the remaining 42 yards in just three plays after scoring on a nine yard run. A bad snap on the PAT kept the Appling led at 34-6.

After an Indian punt that was partially blocked, the Pirates got the ball at the Indian 28 yard line. One play later, the Pirates completed a scoring pass. The PAT kick failed and the Pirate lead grew to 40-6 with 2:47 left in the third quarter.

The Indians kept fighting and after a good return by Clark on the kick the Tribe went to work. A six-yard run by Lilley was followed by a 20-yard shuffle pass to Marcell Maxwell. Clark ran for 18 yards and a penalty on Appling gave the Indians a first and goal from the four yard line. Lilley rushed for three yards before Clark ran it in for the final yard. King hit Maxwell for the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 40-14 with just 0:37 left in the quarter.

Freshman Kyler Williams ended the next Appling drive with an interception giving the Indians the ball at midfield. A 32-yard pass from King to Williams was followed by a 14-yard run from Lilley set up a first and goal. Lilley ran two more times scoring from one yard out for his first career touchdown. The run for two points failed, leaving the Appling lead at 40-20 with 5:24 left in the game.

But the Pirates played ball control the remainder of the game and kept the ball before turning it over on downs with just twelve seconds left. 

Lilley had a career night rushing for 92 yards while King added 72 through the air. Williams led all receivers with three catches for 50 yards.

The Indians get this week off to continue to get better before returning to action on September 20 when they begin region play at Atkinson County.