Last year, Jeff Davis High’s football team made the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Friday night in Hazlehurst, the Jackets made it two years in a row as they defeated Metter 43-23 to earn the No. 3 spot from Region 2-AA in this year’s playoffs. They play Dodge County this Friday night in Eastman.
And the Jackets improved from a 5-4 regular season record in 2017 to 7-3 this season.
The game started slowly for both teams’ offenses. The Jackets kicked off to the Tigers and the visitors promptly fumbled the ball and Michael Dotson scooped it up at the Metter 47. But the Jackets couldn’t take advantage of the turnover and had to punt the ball away. Cade Walters punted the ball to the five yard line and the Tiger returner could only move the ball out to the six.
Three plays later, the Tigers punted from their 10 and the Jackets took over at the Metter 38 to set up Jeff Davis’ first score.
It came quickly as Emanuel Rumph raced 18 yards to the 20, a penalty after a short Rumph run moved the ball to the five, and then Rumph carried the ball in for the score. On the conversion attempt, the Tigers didn’t cover Rumph who was split wide to the right and Walters took the snap and threw to the wide-open Rumph for two points and an 8-0 lead.
The Jackets’ next possession was foiled by an interception to start Metter’s longest possession of the game. It started at the Metter 41 and lasted 13 plays and into the second quarter. With 1st-and-goal at the Jacket four, the JD defense stiffened. Hamp Hayes broke through from his linebacker position to nail a Tiger runner for a 2-yd. loss. A penalty backed up the Tigers to the 11 and then a pass was broken up. After a run picked up only a yard, the Tigers kicked a 27-yd. field goal to cut the score to 8-3.
The Jacket offensive line won the battle in the trenches for the Jacket’s next drive. The big plays in the march came back-to-back, a 13-yd. run by Austin Wood and a 17-yd. pickup by Jashaun Kirby who lowered his shoulder and ran over one tackler, and then another before finally begin brought down at the Metter 22. A pair of 8-yd. runs by Kirby sandwiched around a 2-yd. run by Wood put the ball on the five. Wood then carried to the one and Kirby finished off the march. On the P.A.T. Walters took the snap and ran the ball up the middle for two points and a 16-3 Yellow Jacket lead.
A high Tiger punt snap set up the Jackets’ next score, which started at the Metter 20. The big play in the 5-play drive was a 12-yd. pass from Britt Metts to Walters who sidestepped three would-be tacklers to carry the ball to the five. Three plays later, Rumph scored from a yard out. Sophomore kicker Audiel Placencia got his first extra point try of the year and made good of it to up the score to 23-3.
Metter was able to run only one play before the first half clock expired.
The Jackets scored on their first three possessions of the second half. They took the second half kickoff and put together a 15-play, 90-yd. drive for a score. The big plays in the drive were an 8-yd. pass from Metts to Nyjai Gillis to start the drive, an 8-yd. run through a big hole up the middle by Kirby, a 9-yd. Rumph run, a 30-yd. pass from Walters to Gillis on a fake punt followed by a 12-yd. Wood run, and the 2-yd. scoring run by Rumph. Placencia missed on the P.A.T. kick but the Jackets led 29-3.
After the kickoff, Metter reeled of runs of 14-, 16- and 19. yards to move quickly to the Jacket three. Two plays later the Tigers scored on a 2-yd. run. The 2-pt. run attempt failed and the Jackets led 29-9.
After the kickoff, JD started at their own 25 and went 75 yards in eight plays. A 14-yd. pass from Metts to Snell, a 33-yd. scamper by Wood, and the 16-yd. scoring run by Wood on the first play of the final quarter highlighted the drive. Placencia booted the extra point to make it 36-9.
Metter returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown. The run for two points came up just short as Hayes and Doston Bailey stopped the runner at the one, and the Jackets led 36-15.
The Tigers onside kick didn’t go far enough and the Jackets started at the Metter 49. Two plays after the kick, Metts found Rumph wide open near the left sideline and Rumph juggled the ball a couple of times before hauling it in and racing to the Metter 12 for a 39-yd. pickup. Kirby then ran for 10 and two yards for the score. Placencia kicked the extra point to make it 43-15.
Metter almost scored on its next possession thanks to a 62-yd. run to the JD eight where Gillis pulled down the ball carrier from behind. On 4th-and-goal from the six, nose guard Jaylene Grady picked off a Tiger pass and returned it to the 10 to kill the threat.
Metter’s final score came against JD’s No. 2 offense as a Tiger wrestled the ball from a ball carrier’s grasp and returned it 16 yards for the score. The run for two was good as Metter closed to 43-23.
The Jackets had 396 yards of offense to Metter’s 178. Wood led the rushing with 11 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown, Kirby carried 16 times for 83 yards and two TDs, and Rump ran 71 yards on 15 carries and scored three times. The Jackets rushed for 281 yards.
Metts was 8-for-10 passing for 87 yards and Walters completed a 30-yd. pass for a total of 117 yards passing.
Gillis was the leading receiver with three catches for 34 yards.
Rumph had seven tackles to lead the defense. Dotson had a fumble recovery and Grady an interception.
Kirby was named the Offensive Player of the Game, Rumph the Defensive Player of the Game, and Grady the Trench Player of the Game.
Score by quarters:
MHS 3 0 6 14 -23
JDHS 8 15 6 14 -43