The members of the 2021 Jeff Davis High football team weren’t even born the last time a Yellow Jacket team beat Vidalia on the football field.
That last victory came in 1999, a 40-14 spanking of the Indians. Since that time, the Jackets have a 9-game losing streak to the perennial football powerhouse.
That streak came to an end Friday night in Hazlehurst as the Jackets took a 27-6 win over the visiting Indians.
But it wasn’t easy. The Indians, relying heavily on a passing attack, had perhaps more success moving the ball against the Jackets’ rock-solid defense than any team this season. But, in the end, the Yellow Jacket running game ruled the field to take the important Region 2-AA victory.
With the win the Jackets improved to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in the region. The Indians fell to 1-5 and 0-1.
Sophomore defensive back Carter Mullis had perhaps his career best game with seven tackles, a sack, two pass breakups and an interception. As usual the offensive line was outstanding, opening holes through which Kiyon Dotson gained 129 yards and Aahiyus Allen picked up 125 yards.
The Jackets wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as they took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards in 12 plays to take a 6-0 lead. The drive was the Dotson-Allen show as Dotson carried six times for 24 yards, including the 3-yd. scoring plunge, and Allen had six carries for 41 yards and his 15-yd. gainer was the top play of the drive.
The extra point kick was marred by two penalties which backed up the Jackets to the 13 and Angel Mendez was forced to try a 30-yd. P.A.T. which missed to the left.
On their first possession, the Indians got a first down but, on 3rd-and-5 from the Vidalia 36, defensive tackle William Cravey burst through the line to nail the runner for a 4-yd. loss and Vidalia had to punt the ball away.
Taking over at their 41, the Jackets scored again on the second possession. Rather than grinding it out as they did on the first drive, the offense used some big plays to cover the distance. On the first play of the drive, guard Nate Lewis flattened an Indian defensive back to clear the way for Kirese Hunt to ramble 24 yards to the Vidalia 35.
After a 5-yd. sack and an incomplete pass, Dotson took the ball up the middle, jumped over a tackler, shook off two more tacklers and dragged Indian defenders all the way to the 20 for a 20-yd. pickup. Tre Chandler then darted through a huge hole and fought his way to the four and Allen carried the ball over the goal line for a 12-0 lead. Kade Harpe then carried the ball up the middle for the 2-pt. conversion to make it 14-0.
Vidalia took the ensuing kickoff and moved the ball from their 35 to the Jacket 25 before the drive stalled. Defensive end Miyon Conaway split a pair of blockers and flushed the quarterback and Harpe nailed him for a 3-yd. loss and, on 3rd-and-3 from the 17, Conaway nailed the runner for a short gain. On 4th-and-2, Vidalia started to go for the first down but a penalty backed them up five yards. They tried a 40-yd. field goal but the kick was short and the Jackets took over.
Starting at the 20, the line cleared the right side of the field and Allen raced 15 yards before any defender could get a hand on him. He was finally forced out of bounds at the 45 for a 25-yd. gain. After getting another first down at the Vidalia 43, and a 13-yd. completion from Tyson Alls to Michael Dotson, the Jackets had another first down at the 23. Kiyon Dotson’s 8-yd. run moved the chains again to the 11 and it looked like the Jackets would score on their third straight possession.
But on the next play the Indians recovered a fumble and Vidalia took over at the 13.
Vidalia put together an 8-play drive that reached the Jacket 43. That’s when Mullis blitzed through the middle of the line to nail the quarterback for a 17-yd. sack as the first half came to a close with the Jackets up 14-0.
Vidalia took the second half kickoff and had a short drive. But on 4th-and-4 from midfield, Dalton Sellers burst through the line like he was shot out of a cannon and almost got the handoff as he hit the quarterback and the running back during the handoff. The ball fell to the ground and Sellers pounced on it at the Vidalia 44.
After an incomplete pass and a 24-yd. run by Allen off a block by Kiyon Dotson, C.J. Parker took the ball on an end-around with blocking and faking so effective he could have walked the 25 yards into the end zone.
The Jackets went for two but came up short as they led 20-0.
Using a 15-yd. penalty and a 26-yd. pass completion, Vidalia moved the ball to the Jacket 12, threatening to score. But Chandler blew through the line on a blitz to pressure the quarterback and he threw right into the hands of Parker at the two and Parker returned the interception all the way out to the 40 but a penalty backed up the Jackets to the 20.
A holding penalty and a pair of false starts forced the Jackets into their first punt of the night and Vidalia took over at their 49.
It took them six plays to cover the distance, scoring on a 10-yd. pass to make it 20-7.
After the kickoff, a 20-yd. Allen run was negated by a holding penalty. Kiyon Dotson came right back with a 19-yd. run but it wasn’t enough for a first down and the drive stalled.
A 42-yd. quarterback keeper quickly moved Vidalia into Jacket territory at the 39 as the Indians threatened to get within a touchdown of the lead. Six plays later, Vidalia had a 1st-and-goal at the seven.
On the next play, Harpe nailed the runner for a 4-yd. loss. Two plays later, it was 4th-and-goal from the nine. Under intense pressure from Chandler, the quarterback threw poorly right into the hands of Mullis who intercepted the ball at the one and the defense had held.
Kiyon Dotson quickly got the Jackets out of the hole with a 47-yd. jaunt through the middle and down the right sidelines, almost turning the play into a 99-yd. score but he was caught from behind. Three plays later, Harpe punted the ball all the way to the Vidalia six.
On the next play, Landon Roberson picked off a pass and returned it to the Indian seven. Kiyon Dotson scored on the next play and the Jackets had a 26-7 lead. The extra point kick was blocked.
Vidalia ran out most of the remaining time on the clock with limited success, turning over the ball on downs with seconds remaining. Alls then knelt on the ball to end the game.