Long drive secures Jacket win over Seminary

Published 9:29 am Thursday, August 25, 2016

The typical scorching hot, humid August night that begins high school football every year gave way to surrounding possible thunderstorms that never showed up, but the humidity and the cramping of Jackets like flies hitting a zapper did.

The gold clad YellowJacket fans wrapped the visitor’s sidelines wearing the new “We are Forever Bassfield” shirts to send a message to the elite six that were not there and are not listening.

Like most first game games, this one fit the bill to a tee.  Penalties, turnovers, sloppy play, solid defense, long runs, muscle flexing – and once again the same result as has been for the last seven years, Seminary just not being able to defeat the YellowJackets despite all the aforementioned; mainly because their fans witnessed the same from their Bulldogs.

The Prentiss Headlight / Tony Waits

The Prentiss Headlight / Tony Waits

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“May not be happy how you, got it, (but) be happy (with) what you got!  I know that you see that you are not satisfied, not in shape, not mentally ready, but in the end, it’s still a ‘W’ and that’s what we came here for.”, Mancuso told a team looking within after the game.

The Jackets jamboree game was cancelled, so this was their first contact with a true opponent since the spring, while Seminary handled Taylorsville in their jamboree with ease.

Coming out to take the ball first, Seminary showed what two quarters of play can do to advance one team over another.  Taking the ball 64 yards in six straight runs, put the Jackets defense on its’ heals early.  Holding the first five plays to a net of 8 yards, a misdirection play left the Jackets defense going to the right while the Bulldogs running back headed to the end zone down the left side for 56 yards and the first official touchdown given up by the Jackets in 2016.  PAT was not good, Jackets trailed 0 – 6.

Fumblitis hit the Jackets right from the start as the kickoff was fumbled at the 18 yard line.  The first of many first half penalties by Seminary occurred on the second Jacket offensive play followed by the second penalty on the next play, giving the Jackets the ball at mid-field with only 3 yards rushing on 1 official play.

After a wide open dropped ball, and illegal man downfield penalty by the Jackets, the running game got on track, well, sort of.  Kevin McNair (#5) burst up the middle for 57 yards and a touchdown, just to be brought back for a block in the back by a Jacket.

Five more up the gut runs paid off as Ron Thompson hit pay dirt from 19 yards out for the Jackets first offensive touchdown of the season.  His PAT gave the Jackets its’ lead, that proved to never be relinquished.

The Prentiss Headlight / Tony Waits

The Prentiss Headlight / Tony Waits

Seminary went back to work offensively, moving the ball well, but penalties nullified almost every step forward. Reaching a 4th and 1 at their own 34, Coach Brian Riles felt that it was time to put his guys to the test early, going for the 4th and 1, when conventional wisdom says don’t.  A successful conversion kept the drive going but it still stalled at the Bulldogs 42 as they turned the ball over on downs after Druden Knight and Ricardo Boothe stopped a 4th and 2 cold at the point of impact.

A downright ‘just call it what it was’ ugly series, forced a Jacket punt which finished the drive as u-g-l-y! Three false starts, an incomplete pass, a negative one yard run, a busted play, and finally a 15 yard punt gave the ball back to the Bulldogs almost where they left it, the 35 yard line.

After two steps forward, three steps backwards, penalties, negative plays, and the Bulldogs were punting from where all this three series had been.

If the last series was ugly, then the next series, never got the chance to be anything, since the ball was put on the ground on the first snap.  Seminary in great position at the Jackets 25 yard line.

Seminary kept the second quarter going as the first quarter ended two series ago, playing like, well, the first game of the season.  The Jackets defense got its’ first take away setting up house at the Bulldogs 30 yard line.

The Bulldogs defense wanted to give back to its’ offense and stuffed the Jackets for losses on the next two plays, Ron Thompson got 11 back, but the special teams were back on the field to punt again.   This time 29 yards, to the Jackets 38.

After a first down run of eleven, Seminary went four yards backwards on the next two plays with one run and two incomplete passes and punted back to the Jackets.  The ugliness of the 2nd quarter continued with another Jacket fumble and turnover after a 34 yard run by Malik Shorts (#9), then a 24 yard run by Jafharis McKines (#22) who put it on the ground at the Bulldogs 12 yard line.  Opportunity to score – gone!

The Prentiss Headlight / Tony Waits

The Prentiss Headlight / Tony Waits

Seminary went from the 12 to the 29 and back to the 19 before setting up to punt – this time the Bulldog center sent the balling sailing through the end zone giving the Jackets a 2 point safety and the ball back with :53 seconds to play.

The Jackets finished the half, just as they had finished the first quarter and the whole second quarter – allowing the defense of the Bulldogs to control the line of scrimmage.  Half ended with the Jackets in the lead 9 – 7.

Seminary controlled the first half with 33 offensive plays to the Jackets 19.  The Jackets first half went: touchdown, punt, fumble, punt, fumble, punt, safety scored, end of half. 17 runs for 117 yards, 34 yards for longest run, 2 passes – 1 completion for -3 yards.  Seminary ran 25 times for 109 yards and completed 3 of 8 passes for 26 yards – longest run of 56 yards.

A tale of two halves and a lot more of the same as well as the second half unfolded.

Taking the opening kickoff and immediately going backwards with a bone-head penalty, but lasting only four plays before putting the ball on the ground – again!

Seminary had their opportunity taking over at the 33 of Bassfield.  Moving the ball methodically yard by yard, but a defensive forced fumble, gave the ball back to the Jackets at their own 1 yard line.

“The Drive” of 2016, at least for now was thought about all over the sideline.  Ninety nine yards – time consuming, game winning touchdown – time would tell.

Utilizing 6 different running backs on drive – a smorgasbord of football all in one drive.  Starting with a simple 2 yard dive play by 2016 Jacket starting quarterback Cason Sims (#12), 7 more runs before a wide open Tracey Easterling (#25) took in a Sims pass of 38 yards down to the 17.  All of these other plays thanks to a 3 yard run on a 4th and inches at the Jackets 10 yard line – talk about risk taking.

Three more runs before another Sims run up the middle from the 3, at the same spot he ended his first run early in this 13 play drive, and on the same end of the field into the 4th quarter – just want the fans dreamed of and wished. Touchdown Jackets – 99 yards, 6 minutes 50 seconds.  PAT run no good, Jackets lead now 15 – 6.

Calling it a panic attack, call it, change up the offense, whatever you call it – call it not successful as the Bulldogs trying going to the air more than the run, but running out of steam and punting to the Jackets 43.

Three negative runs by the Jackets as Seminary defense put up a desperation stance to get the ball back one more time to get this game back in their hands.

It worked, a partially blocked punt of 11 yards gave Seminary hope again at the 6:37 mark of the 4th quarter at the Jackets 45 yard line.

A perfectly executed halfback pass to start the drive, put the Bulldogs in business at the 15 yard line.  A set up run up the middle gained nothing to open up the 6 foot 6 wide receiver on a jump pass in the end zone, which this battle he won.  PAT no good, Jackets still up by 3, 15 – 12!

With the momentum clearly switched to the Bulldogs, the Jackets needed an answer, or put themselves in position of having to defend a game ending drive.  Taking the ball at the twenty after the kickoff sailed out of the end zone, now was the time to see what this team had left in the tank.

Straight to the power game with Ron Thompson for three, then new legs in the backfield with sophomore fullback, James Washington (#7) to take his turn.  The  fresh legs were too much for Seminary as Washington hit the middle for 60 yards, same play, 8 more yards, same play for a loss of 1, then back to the Jackets work horse, Ron Thompson to send a message to the Bulldogs.  Ten yards to pay dirt and answer the Bulldogs drive right back.  The defense of Seminary was done, out of shape and sucking air just to stand up, just what the Jackets needed.  PAT no good as the two point conversion failed.  Jackets in control 21 – 12.

If two series ago the Bulldogs were not in panic mode, they surely were now – four straight passes – all incomplete. With 3:26 on the clock, one might have thought Seminary would go back to the run game since the Jackets defense had only been off the field for 2:09 off the clock.  From the players coaches and fans, we all say thanks.

Taking over the ball at the Bulldogs 30 and still 3:04 on the clock, it was time to run the ball, eat up the clock and take this victory home.  With the headsets off quickly after the Jackets got a first down on three plays thanks to a Bulldog off sides helping the drive, Coach Riles was ready to call it a night.  Two more runs and this game was in the books. Jackets take the victory 21 – 12!

The Jackets rushed for 153 yards on 28 carries in the second half; total of 270  yards on 45 carries and 3 touchdowns; add in 33 yards passing, giving the offense 303 yards for the night.  Seminary only rushed for 36 yards on 11 carries in the second half, passed for 59 yards with 4 completions in 11 attempts and 1 touchdown.  The Jackets defense held the Bulldogs to 145 rushing and 85 yards passing a total of 230 yards.

Cason Sims ended the evening with 4 rushes for 14 yards, 1 TD and completed 2 of 3 passes for 33 yards.  Leading rusher, Ron Thompson ended with 74 tough yards on 21 carries, 2 touchdowns and 1 PAT.  Other offensive leaders, Hunter Hathorn – 22 yards on 2 carries, James Washington – 3 carries for 67 yards with the longest run of the night of 60 yards; Tracey Easterling had one crucial catch for 38 yards.

The Jackets came into this game ranked 3 in state 2A, and should move up to at least #2 as last week’s #2 Lake was blown out by Newton.  Number one, Bay Springs won their game handily over #4 Taylorsville.

I am proud to have been wrong about this games prediction two weeks ago, a win is worth the bitter taste of being wrong.

Next week is one on only four home games during the regular season against Forest County AHS.  AHS lost its’ home opener against Pearl River Central.  In this series the home team has lost more times than not, but not this year. Jackets are home for the first time and with a win under their belt, where they were underdogs, and probably underdogs again this week.

The “Forever Bassfield Jacket Nation” ask you to pack the stadium this Friday night at 7 at Willoughby Field, at “Forever, Bassfield High School”.