Jackets shock Tigers 21-14

Jashaun Kirby comes down on a Swainsboro player

It took a pile of Tigers to bring Jashaun Kirby to the ground

Jashaun Kirby getting some tough yards

Jashaun Kirby running on his 42-yd. touchdown

James Wood tackles a Tiger for a loss

Bradley Owens brings down a Tiger

Audiel Placencia tries a field goal as Cade Walters holds

Jeff Davis High went into last Friday night’s game against Swainsboro as a 29-point underdog. And virtually no prognosticators in Georgia felt the Yellow Jackets had a chance of knocking off the 7-1 Tigers, who have been ranked in the Class AA Top 10 all season. Swainsboro, who had lost only to No. 2 ranked Dublin, needed a win to clinch its second straight Region 2-AA Championship.
But the Yellow Jacket coaching staff and their players had anything but a loser’s mindset going into the game as they dominated the Tigers on both sides of the football and came away with a 21-14 upset victory.
Coach Lance Helton and his team of talented assistants scrapped the Jackets’ wing-T offense and installed an I-formation offense in the four days of practice leading up to Friday’s game. And they put their faith in their offensive line of center Christian Ray, guards Nate Lewis and Chasten Googe, tackles Conner McLoon and Jackson Yawn, and tight end Matthew Glass, and their backups. The front wall responded to their coaches’ faith and carved out holes in the Tiger defense all night long.
Chief beneficiary of the front wall’s success was fullback Jashaun Kirby who rushed for 178 yards on 18 carries, getting a lot of those yards by running over and around would-be tacklers.
Meanwhile, the defensive troops stymied the Tigers’ offense, limiting Swainsboro to just over 197 yards of offense.
The defenses dominated most of the opening quarter until the Jackets found themselves backed up to their own 10 yard line after a Tiger punt. That’s when Kirby took the ball up the middle through a truck size hole, gave a hapless defensive back a head fake that left him grabbing at air, and raced down the home sideline for a 28-yd. pickup to the 38. That sparked a drive that culminated early in the second quarter with Aahiyus Allen scoring on a 5-yd. run. On the P.A.T. attempt, Cade Walters took a direct snap and raced to his right side to cross the goal line with a 2-pt. conversion and an 8-0 JD lead.
On the third play after the kickoff, Swainsboro dropped the football and James Wood recovered at the Tiger 49.
After a couple of running plays moved the ball to the 42, Kirby took the ball up the middle, broke through a tackle at the 40 and raced all the way to the end zone untouched for a 14-0 lead. Audiel Placencia kicked the extra point to make it 15-0, sending shock waves through the Tiger stands.
Swainsboro came right back. Starting at their 37, the Tigers marched 63 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 28-yd. pass. Swainsboro tried to run for a 2-pt. conversion on a quarterback draw, but James Wood forced the play to go outside, then spun away from his blocker and met the quarterback at the one with help from a couple of his teammates to thwart the attempt.
Wood’s effort was indicative of a bevy of outstanding individual efforts by a number of Jacket defenders throughout the game.
With time running out in the first half, Michael Dotson took the ensuing kickoff at the 25 on the left side of the field, broke upfield off a block from Austin Wood, raced untouched to the 40 where he cut to his right and raced all the way to the Swainsboro 24.
After a running play got one the first half clock was almost to zero and Placencia came on to try a 41-yd. field goal. But the kick was blocked as the first half came to a close with JD on top 15-6.
Swainsboro took the second half kickoff and marched 66 yards in 11 plays, scoring on a 2-yd. run to get within 15-12. The Tigers ran for the 2-pt. conversion and suddenly the Jackets’ 15-pt. lead was down to one.
When the Tigers got the ball again, it was time for the JD defense to work its magic. With Swainsboro facing a 2nd-and-3, James Wood again spun out of a block and nailed a Tiger runner for a 1-yd. gain that appeared destined to pick up the first down. Then a penalty backed them up and an incomplete pass forced them to punt the ball away and JD took over at the Jacket 36.
Allen quickly picked up nine cutting off a block by Jackson Yawn. After Kirby picked up five and a first down, he then blew up the middle for 10 more, running over tacklers and carrying them to another first down. Then the interior line opened a hole for Kirby, who sidestepped two tacklers, ran over another and then carried another tackler 10 more yards for a 20-yd. gain to the 20. After Kirby picked up one, he led the blocking for Allen who broke three tackles and bulled his way to the five.
Kirby then ran for four and one and his second touchdown of the night. Orlando Payan came on to kick the extra point but a quick snap, which Coach Helton felt was caused by Tiger players calling the Jackets’ snap count, hit holder Walters’ shoulder and the Jackets had to settle for the 21-14 lead.
After the kickoff, the Tigers moved the ball quickly into Jacket territory and faced a 3rd-and-2 at the Jeff Davis 22, threatening to tie the game. But a Tiger receiver dropped a pass and Swainsboro faced a big, 4th-and-2. That’s when Bradley Owens came up with a huge defensive play, nailing the Tiger runner for a 1-yd. loss and the Jackets took over at their 23.
Kirby picked up 13 yards, again up the middle for a first down at the 36. After three running plays left the Jackets with a 4th-and-2, JD lined up as if to go for it but, instead, lured a Tiger defender to cross the line of scrimmage giving the Jackets a crucial first down with the clock running low on time.
After Kirby ran for four and three, Allen picked up the first down with a 9-yd. run and all Britt Metts had to do was kneel on the ball twice to run off the remainder of the clock.
The Jackets rushed for 272 yards and passed for another 31 for 313 yards of total offense. Behind Kirby’s 178 yards and two touchdowns was Allen with 14 carries for 78 yards and a score. Austin Wood ran only once but it was good for 21 yards.
Metts was 2-for-4 passing for 31 yards Dotson and Greg Chambers each getting a catch.
The Jacket defense gave up only 142 rushing yards and 65 through the air for 197 yards of offense. James Wood led the defense with six solo tackles, two assists, one tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery.
For the season, Allen is the rushing leader with 93 carries for 668 yards and nine TDs. Kirby has 608 yards and four touchdowns on 87 carries, Austin Wood has carried 55 times for 364 yards and four TDs, Owens has 32 carries for 340 yards and three TDs, and Tre Chandler has carried 25 times for 100 yards and four touchdowns.
Metts is 49-0f-69 for 700 yards and nine TDs. Chambers has 21 receptions for 288 yards and a touchdown, Dotson has seven catches for 123 yards and a TD, Matthew Glass has three catches for 30 yards and three scores, and Allen has five catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively for the season, Caleb Parlor continues to lead the defense with 45 solo tackles, 200 assists, three tackles for losses and one interception.
The defense has nine takeaways.
The Jackets are averaging 29.5 points per game and giving up 14.
Score by quarters:
SHS 0 6 8 0 -14
JDHS 0 15 0 7 -21

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