The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets got the Jared Zito era off to a good start with a season-opening win as they pulled out to a 21-0 halftime lead over Brantley County and rolled on for the 28-0 victory.
The Jackets used a nice mix of pass and run to build a 21-0 halftime score that could have been a lot worse except for some problems for the Jackets in the red zone. Southeast actually had the ball inside the 20 on six different times in the first half but only came away with 21 points.
“It’s always great to start the season with a win,” said Zito. "I was really proud of our first half performance and our defense played great all night long. We could have been a little more productive on offense as far as scoring points but that is something we can address this week. I thought we had great effort out there tonight.”
The Jacket defense completely shut the Herons down in the first half as they created four turnovers and never let Brantley County past their own 43-yard line. In the second half Brantley only got past the Jacket 25-yard line one time and Heron penalties ended up backing them all the way back into Jacket territory and they’d never threaten again.
“I have an offensive background so the first person I hired was our defensive coordinator Jason Anthony,” said Zito. “I thought he and the defensive staff did a great job of putting us in positions to be successful. I thought we did a great job forcing turnovers and made great improvements on tackling and taking better angles tonight.”
On their opening possession, Yellow Jacket quarterback Khristian Clark connected with receiver Tyler Griffin on a 39-yard pass to help the Jackets get inside the 20, but they were unable to come away with points. The Herons fumbled on their first possession and Kyon Taylor recovered at the 23-yard line. Griffin then made another catch inside the 20 and while it looked like his forward progress had stopped the Herons were able to strip the ball away and dodged another bullet.
The Jackets' defense held on the next series and Southeast Bulloch finally got into the end zone as Tradon McBride scored on a 19-yard run. The extra point by Andrew Slone was goof for a 7-0 lead.
Late in the first quarter Clark and Griffin hooked up again, this time for a 27-yard completion inside the Herons 20-yard line. On the first play of the second quarter McBride scored on a tough 19-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 14-0.
The Jacket offense sputtered a bit on their next two drives, but the defense bailed them out forcing a pair of turnovers. A fumble recovery was followed by a tipped pass by Griffin and a nice catch for an interception by Kamheron Wadley which would set the offense up in great field possession once again.
This time around the offense was able to convert the turnover into points as A.J. Johnson broke a few tackles on a 31-yard touchdown run as the Jackets went into halftime with a 21-0 lead.
Southeast Bulloch picked up where they left off in the first half as the defense smothered Brantley County and Griffin put things away on an exciting touchdown run. An inside hand off saw Griffin bottled up on the near sidelines. He would then cut all the way across the field and would go untouched 72-yards for the final points of the game as Zito was able to get his second team in for much of the fourth quarter.
“We took a big step forward on both sides of the ball from our scrimmage game,” said Zito. “On offense we want to be balanced and we did that at times tonight. The one thing we really need to improve on is finishing drives and getting points on the board, but it was a good game, and we have to continue to improve.”
The Jackets start the season 1-0 and will next host Telfair County next Friday at 7:30 at Fred Shaver Field.