Jeff Davis High School’s football players played like they were in a fog most of the evening Friday night in Alma, as mental errors wreaked havoc on their play almost from start to finish.
The result was a 24-17 win for previously winless (0-4) Bacon County over the previously unbeaten (4-0) Yellow Jackets. It was the Region 2-AA opener for both teams.
The Jacket errors included two blocking penalties on interception returns nullifying two touchdowns. And both blocks were unnecessary, 10 yards behind the play with the returners almost already in the end zone.
In addition, there were numerous penalties, missed tackles, a dropped pass in the end zone, missed blocks and being out of position.
Still, the Jackets could have won the game but a Bacon County return of a fumble for a touchdown was the difference in the game.
The game started well for JD as, after they kicked off to start the game, Bacon fumbled on its first play from scrimmage. Sophomore defensive end James Wood stripped the ball from the runner and freshman defensive back Aahiyus Allen scooped the ball up and returned it seven yards to the Raider 25.
Austin Wood and Tre Chandler each ran for eight yards, Emanuel Rumph carried for five and then scored on a 4-yd. run. Rici Rubio kicked the extra point and Jeff Davis was quickly up 7-0.
After the Jackets’ ensuing onside kick, Bacon started at their 46 and scored in four plays. On the Raiders’ first play, the Jacket miscues began when four players missed tackles at the line of scrimmage resulting in an 8-yd. pickup. On the next play, two JD defenders went deep with one receiver leaving a receiver wide open resulting in a 25-yd. pickup. Two plays later, a JD defensive back misjudged a pass, allowing a Bacon receiver to get open in the end zone for a 20-yd. score. The P.A.T. kick tied the game 7-7.
The Jackets’ next possession was foiled by missed blocks on two plays, sandwiched around a 7-yd. pass from quarterback Britt Metts to wide receiver Sam Snell.
Moments later, the Jackets got a break when the punt snap sailed over the Raider kicker’s head and Rumph buried the kicker at the Bacon nine where the Jackets took over. Metts scored on a keeper over the right side on the next play to put Jeff Davis back in front. Rubio booted the P.A.T. to make it 14-7.
The Jackets held Bacon again but a 15-yd. walk off against JD gave the Raiders a first down. The moved the ball inside the Jacket 15 before a 15-yd. penalty against Bacon moved them back. They tried a 29-yd. field goal but the kick missed left.
The second quarter started with the Jackets facing 2nd-and-2 after an 8-yd. Rumph run. But a missed block resulted a 3-yd. loss and on 3rd-and-5 Austin Wood came up a yard short of a first down and JD had to kick the ball away.
Bacon County blocked Cade Walters’ punt putting the Raiders at the JD 18. After an incomplete pass, Bacon scored on the next play on an 18-yd. run up the middle as the runner slipped three would-be tacklers. The kick tied the game 14-14.
After the kickoff, the Jackets put together an 11-play drive, overcoming two penalties in the process. Big plays in the drive were a 12-yd. Chandler run, a 10-yd. completion from Metts to Nyjai Gillis, and a 22-yd. Metts completion to James Wood to the Bacon 33.
But that’s when things went bad. After two runs were stopped at the line of scrimmage, Chandler picked up three and, on 4th-and-7, the Jackets went for it but Rumph was stopped for an 8-yd. loss and Bacon took over on downs.
On the second play after the interception, Walters picked off a tipped pass at the Jacket 35 and returned the ball down the right sidelines into the end zone. Walters was in the clear at the Bacon 28, when a block in the back was called at the 30. Walters was at the 9-yd. line by the time the flag hit the ground and the score was nullified.
Backed up to the 43, Metts hit a wide open James Wood at the 30 and the sophomore tight end rambled all the way to the Bacon 16 for a 27 yd. completion.
But the Jackets could get no closer than the 11 and, on 4th-and-5, Rubio kicked a 24-yd. field goal to put the Jackets up 17-14 at intermission.
Bacon kicked off to start the second half, but another missed block killed the Jackets’ first possession.
The Jackets showed some promise on their next possession as Austin Wood had runs of 5 and 13 yards to pick up a first down. Metts hit Gillis for seven yards but a five yard penalty on the next play made it 2nd-and-8. Rumph then carried for almost 8 and, on 4th down, Metts got the first down on a sneak.
But then came another 5-yd. penalty against the Jacket and two plays later, a fumble at the Raider 39 was scooped up at the 38 and returned 62 yards for a score and a 21-17 Bacon County lead.
After the kickoff, Metts connected with Snell for a 16-yd. lead and back-to-back runs by Darrell Mincey picked up 8 and 4 yards for a first down at the Bacon 45. But on the next play, a Metts pass was picked off at the Bacon 35 and returned to the Jeff Davis 45. A 15-yd. penalty pushed the Raiders back to their own 40.
After a 21-yd. run moved Bacon to the Jacket 39, the defense tightened thanks to good defensive plays by James Wood, Roderick Lewis and Cody Ewing. On 4th-and-4, Bacon’s placekicker booted a school record 50-yd. field goal to put Bacon up 24-17.
On Bacon’s next possession, Allen picked off a Raider pass and returned it 65 yards to the end zone, but again, a block behind the play nullified the score. The block occurred at the 20 with Allen inside the 15 with no one having a chance to catch him.
After a 10-yd. Metts-to-Snell pass, the Jackets stalled. One the second play after the pass, Austin Wood took a handoff from Rumph on a reverse, when he got the ball, the blocking and faking had been so effective that Wood had a wide-open path to the end zone with a blocker in front of him. But the two wingbacks’ feet got entangled and Wood fell to the ground. On the next play, Britts lofted a perfect pass to a wide open receiver in the end zone but he dropped the ball. Rubio then came on to kick a 40-yd. field goal but it missed to the right.
Bacon managed to run out most of the remainder of the clock and punted the ball away giving the Jackets only enough time to run one play. But Metts was sacked before he could get the pass off.
The Yellow Jackets came into the game averaging 329 yards per game rushing. But Friday night, they managed only 122. Quarterback Britt Metts threw for another 88 yards to give the Jackets 210 yards of total offense. Bacon had 196 yards total offense, 139 on the ground and 57 in the air.
Tre Chandler was the leading rusher with seven carries for 35 yards. Metts was 7-for-11 passing for a season high 88 yards, earning Offensive Player of the Game, and James Wood was the leading receiver with two catches for 51 yards.
Cody Ewing led the tackling for Jeff Davis with six stops earning him Trench Player of the Game. Aahiyus Allen had a pass interception and a fumble recovery to earn Defensive Player of the Game. Cade Walters also picked off a pass.
Score by quarters:
JDHS 14 3 0 0 -17
BCHS 7 7 7 3 -24