Fans who have followed Jeff Davis High football this season would probably agree that the Yellow Jacket performance Friday night against Sumter was their best of the season.
Sumter fans were probably stunned when they left the stadium following the game. Surprised that their Panthers lost and perhaps even more surprised that Sumter was shut out. The Panthers were averaging 24 points per game and had not been shut out all season.
But the Yellow Jacket defense kept Sumter out of the end zone and the visitors made only one real threat to score.
And the JD offense was clicking on all cylinders.
On Sumter’s first play from scrimmage, senior linebacker Carter Mullis sniffed out a pass attempt and nailed the Panther runner for a 5-yd. loss, leading to a 3-and-out for Sumter. And when the Panthers punted on 4th-and-4, Mullis blasted through the line to block the punt, giving the Jackets the ball at the Sumter 35 for their first possession of the game.
La’Trell Sellers quickly got a first down weaving his way to a 12-yd. pickup and, on 3rd-and-9 from the 22, quarterback Colby Beach followed his downfield blocking for a 13-yd. gain Beach scored from the 9 on the next play and Fabian Valdelamar, back to kick after weeks on the sideline with an injury, drilled the P.A.T. and it was 7-0 early in the game.
On the second play of Sumter’s next possession, Haydon King separated the ball from the ball-carrier and the Jackets recovered at the Panther 46.
Kyrise Hunt quickly got 13 and Beach got another 11, and suddenly the Jackets were knocking on the door for another score. But a holding penalty snuffed out the threat and a penalty on Valdelamar’s 32-yd. field goal kick moved the ball back to the 20. From there, Valdelamar’s second kick attempt was blocked and Sumter had survived a scare.
Sumter was unable to move the chains and Eli Saunders returned the Panther punt to the Jacket 42.
On the second play of the second quarter, Beach took the ball to his left side, broke off a downfield block by Hunt, broke into the clear at the 40 and raced into the end zone for a 50-yd. TD romp. Valdelamar made it 14-0.
After the kickoff, a couple of penalties and the smothering Yellow Jacket defense forced yet another Sumter punt.
The Yellow Jacket offense ate up most of the time on the first half clock with a 13-play march from the JD 15 to the Sumter 6 but the Jackets couldn’t get the ball into the end zone and Jeff Davis led at intermission 14-0. The Panthers did not have a first down in the first half.
After the Jackets’ 13-play drive to end the first half, they took the second half kickoff and kept the ball for nine plays, moving from their own 25 to the Panther 22 before the drive stalled. Hunt had a 25-yd. run, carrying a trio of would-be tacklers on his back for the final 10 yards, and two plays later Beach raced 19 yards to the 22. But a penalty killed the drive and Kamden Munsayac had to punt the ball away on 4th-and-21 from the 38.
Starting at their own 11 yard line, Sumter finally got its offense untracked, picking up three first downs and moving the ball out to their 39. On 4th-and-3, Uriel Ortega Silva crashed through the line to nail the Panther ball carrier for a 2-yd. loss and the Jackets took over on downs at the Panther 39.
Hunt got 12, then 8, Beach picked up 7, Hunt got five more to the Sumter 5. Mullis then bulled his way into the left corner of the end zone to up the score to 20-0. Valdelamar added the kick.
After the ensuing kickoff, Sumter made its only threat to score in the game, pushing the ball to the 16 where, on 4th-and-9, an incomplete pass ended the threat with just under 11 minutes left in the game.
The Panthers got one more chance to scored, taking the ball at the Jacket 40. But on their first play, Ortega Silva and Malachi Jones hit the quarterback as he tried to throw and Mullis made a diving interception at the Jacket 35.
From there, the Jackets ran off the remaining time on the clock to preserve their 21-0 win.