Tharon Davis had 22 carries for 219 yards and three touchdowns, and the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets (1-4, 0-2 Region 3-AA) got the ball back down 21-20 with 1:57 to go in the game after stopping the Westside (Augusta) Patriots on fourth down, but couldn’t capitalize as they dropped their second-straight region game in front of a capacity homecoming crowd Friday.
Westside got the ball back with 3:10 to go in the third quarter holding a one-point lead and grinded out a 17-play, 70-yard drive that ate up 9:10 off the clock. Southeast Bulloch stopped the drive on its 8-yard line on fourth down and got the ball back. The Jackets had to punt from their 46, but once again got the ball back after another failed fourth-down attempt by the Patriots – this time on a fourth-down holding call that forced a punt.
Jacket coach John Kenny was pleased with the play of his defense.
“Our defense gave up one touchdown. Special teams and offense gave up the other two. I can’t say enough about our defensive effort,” said SEB coach John Kenny. “I can’t say enough about the defensive coaches; coach Sorrow, coach Newland, coach Cole and coach Peterson.”
Westside got the scoring started early. On its first possession, the playcalling kept the ball on the ground, and fullback Zach Gaddy scampered in from 17 yards out to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead.
The Jackets responded almost immediately. Davis set up SEB with good field position when he returned the kickoff to the 35-yard line. He finished off the drive after taking an option pitch from quarterback Joe Wilson 52 yards to the house. Defensive back Matt Conner couldn’t handle the extra-point snap, and the missed PAT left Southeast Bulloch trailing 7-6 early in the game.
After the SEB defense tightened up and forced a three-and-out, Conner returned the ensuing punt 68 yards to the Patriot 12-yard line. A holding penalty and a three-and-out forced the Jackets into a 39-yard field goal attempt that had the distance but sailed wide left.
The Southeast defense responded again when, on the first play of the second quarter, Jimmy Taylor picked off a second-down pass from Patriot quarterback Josh Edmunds. SEB could not capitalize on the turnover. They put Westside on the SEB 8-yard line after a three-and-out and a punt that sailed high over punter Jared Page’s head. Patriot running back Chris Hunter scored on the first play of the drive and gave the Pats a 14-6 lead.
The Jackets put the Patriots right back into good field position after a bad toss from Wilson to Davis was recovered by Westside on the WHS 29-yard line. A series of penalties placed the Patriots in a 3rd-and-40, but Gaddy picked up 19 on a third-down run and, going for it on 4th-and-21, Edmunds connected with Steven Timmons for 25 yards and a first down.
Hunter got his second touchdown when – faced with another fourth-down situation - he scored from three yards out and increased the Patriot lead to 21-6.
For the second week in a row, Wilson led the Yellow Jackets down the field for a late, first-half touchdown. Davis caught a 16-yard pass on 3rd-and-10 and capped off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run. The Jackets hit the locker room trailing 21-14 after Davis took it up the middle for a two-point conversion.
It was all Davis in the third quarter. After being set up on a nice return by Greg Wright, on the second half’s opening kickoff, Davis took the first handoff of the half 56 yards for his third TD of the contest. After appearing to tie the game, a holding call moved the PAT attempt 10 yards back, and the second attempt sailed wide left. It proved to be the difference.
Davis returned from injury to rush for his second 3-touchdown game, and reached the 200-yard mark for the first time, including a fumbled pitch in the third quarter that he scooped up, reversed the field, and went sideline-to-sideline to turn it into a 19-yard pickup.