Jackets defense flexes muscles in win over FCAHS
By Bobby L. Wilson
It is always been taught, preached, and taunted, that defense wins championships, while offense sells tickets.
That being the case, go ahead and mail the trophy to Bassfield High School.
The defense of the Yellowjackets stymied the offense of FCAHS Aggies this past Friday from the opening series to the final snap of the ball.
The defense of the Aggies was not chopped liver, as the offensive line of Bassfield found out as the game progressed. There were several firsts in this game, and none of them good.
The running workhorse of Trodrick Daniels remained the same but work is the key word. Every yard gained was earned as the Class 4A State Champions of 2013 came with something to prove. With a new head coach, Lee Sullivan (not new to the team, just new to the position as head coach), the Aggies played solid defense after the first series.
After receiving the opening kick, the Jackets swarming defense sent the Aggies back to the sidelines quickly after only 3 plays and 5-yards.
Bassfield took its first possession and played Jacket football that we have all become accustomed to. Smash mouth football is what the fans expect, and the 2014 team delivered, at least for the first series.
A steady dose of T-Rod and sophomore Ron Thompson gave the fans plenty to cheer about. A 73-yard drive finished off by a 14-yard run by T-Rod Daniels for his 5th touchdown run of the early season. The kicking game, this year’s nemesis, continued so Jackets lead was 6-0.
The next two series seemed more like watching a rugby match than watching American football. FCAHS started at the 40 and on 4th and 3 turned the ball over on downs as the Jackets defense stopped the Aggies cold in their tracks.
The Jackets started at the 47 and after a holding call on a 1st down run with 4th and 1 at the 38, the second attempt came up one-yard short and the Aggies went back on offense. The ball had moved a total of 12-yards basically in the middle of the field.
Three more plays by the Aggies and enough of this back and forth, the Aggies punter JW Terry punted the Jackets back to the 20.
Once again the Aggies defense showed that they came to play and stuffed the Jackets offense allowing only 9-yards as the Jackets gambled and went for a 4th and 8 at the 24-yard line of the Aggies.
Fortunately the Jackets also came to play defense and pushed the Aggies back to the 30 where they took over after the Aggies could not convert on their 4th down attempt.
As the rugby match continued and as both defenses continued to play this tug of war for field position. The Jackets punt only went 16-yards giving the Aggies a good opportunity at the 50.
Would the dominant defense please stand up? Jamal Peters made that happen with a center field catch of an Aggies pass. Jamal returned the interception to the 34-yard line, and with a personal file penalty tacked on the Jackets were in business at the 19 of the Aggies.
Two T-Rod runs, sandwiched around Ron Thompson’s run, and the Jackets were on the board again. T-Rod put up his 6th running TD of the season. Keeping the PAT guys on the sideline, the Jackets went for two-point conversion coming up about a foot short. Jackets led 12-0.
The Aggies mustered -2 yards on two drives. The Jackets suffered two sacks of quarterback Timothy Arnold and punted the ball away. Total defense domination in the first half.
As has been the case throughout the Mancuso era, the offense came out for the opening possession of the second half and played Jacket football and drove the ball straight down field for a 68 touchdown. T-Rod scored his 3rd of the night and 7th of the season. PAT – well you know – Jackets lead 18-0.
JW Terry back to punt for the Aggies on their first drive of the second half just could not get that defensive tackle body high enough to snag the high snap from center, recovering the ball at the 5-yard line. Smart thing would have been to knock the ball out of the end zone for a safety but Jackets take over at the 5-yard line.
I cannot find in any notes, articles, stories, anywhere that shows the Jackets with a 1st and goal at the 5-yard line and could not score. Sweeps, sweeps and no power running resulted in 4 tries and turn over on downs at the 3-yard line.
Forrest County went on their second best drive of the night with an 11-play drive accelerated by a 5-yard running into the kicker penalty keeping the drive alive. Finally the Jackets defense stiffened forcing a second punt. Two penalties on the punt, 1st FCAHS penalized for illegal formation, no enough men on the line of scrimmage; the Jackets were to be penalized for a block in the back. Taking the penalty by the Jackets would result in a 5-yard penalty against the Aggies and punt again, or refuse that penalty, then be penalized for block in the back, keep the ball and move on.
The decision was made to take the penalty and re-kick. As soon as the decision was made, Mancuso walked down the sideline and said, “Watch this bite me in the butt.” The statement had barely been made when the punt was in the air, Jamal to receive, through his arms and to the ground, and yes, it bit the team in the butt. Fumble, Aggies recover at the 41.
The second error of the night by Jamal came on the third play of the drive on a slant pass that Jamal missed, allowing the receiver to go the 42-yards to pay dirt for the Aggies first score. Barely making it over the crossbar on the PAT – Jackets lead was cut to 18-7.
Three plays later the Jackets answered right back. Maybe it was the rest from being on defense so long but 72-yards was completed by a run of 56-yards by Ron Thompson. Kick no good – surprised! Jackets lead 24-7.
Racheem Boothe ended the next drive of the Aggies with a one handed grab of a pass, returning it to the 47-yard line.
A time killing drive of 11 plays that would put this game on ice was put together by the Jackets offense, but once again, points left on the field, a total of 18 tonight. Timothy Arnold could not handle the snap at the 7-yard line turning the ball over to the Aggies.
Three straight negative plays by the Aggies, and Aggies punter, Terry, the most active player for the Aggies all night was back at the end line to punt. The Jackets ran 3 plays and the clock ran out on the FCAHS Aggies once again against the Jackets coming up short with the final score of 24-7. The Jackets go to 2-0 while the Aggies fall in their opener of the season now 0-1.
The Jackets defense held FCAHS to a net of 38-yards. 42-yards passing and -4 rushing.
The Jackets offense totaled of 303-yards rushing on 44 carries and 14-yards passing.
Team leaders were Ron Thompson with 6 carries for 110-yards and 1 touchdown. T-Rod ran for 79-yards on 17 carries and 3 touchdowns. Not the 200-yards he wanted for the second week, but enough to lead the Jackets to victory.
This week the Jackets travel to Prentiss for the Jefferson Davis County Championship. Mancuso teams have never lost this game, and Prentiss has never even played it close.
Things could be different this year. The Bulldogs come in flying high and growling loud with a 2-0 record as well and chomping at the bits for a victory over the Yellowjackets. A victory by the Bulldogs would be monumental for their season and their future.
That being said, I still believe it would take a miracle for that to happen. Jackets defense is just too powerful, and the offense too fast. I still stick to my beginning of the year prediction and see the Jackets running away with this one. The Bulldogs can score but do they have it? How bad do the Jackets defense want to pitch a shutout.
Game time 7 p.m. One team will win but the county will win as all stand proud of their respective teams!