Hounds visit Northside-Warner Robins on Friday
The Greyhounds beat one old rival they had a losing record against last Friday, downing Baldwin 41-17 in their home opener to improve to 2-0 on the season.
But an even tougher foe awaits this weekend. JonesCountyvisitsNorthside-WarnerRobins at McConnell-Talbert Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. The Eagles are 1-1 after losing 27-24 to Peach County at Mercer’s Five Star Stadium last Saturday. Northside lost consecutive Region 1-6A games last year (16-13 to Lee County and 14-12 to Coffee), but losing two in a row is very rare for the perennial power. Before last season, the last time the Eagles lost back-to-back regular season games was in 1997. Interestingly enough, that streak began with a loss to Peach County (14-0) in their second game of the season. Northside lost at home (22-3) to R.E. Lee of Montgomery, Ala., the next week. Maybe ancient history can repeat itself on Friday night. “Northside’s tough, and they hardly ever lose two in a row,” Jones County coach Justin Rogers said. “But you see it can happen, so we’ll just go down there and try to play well and see how we come out.” The Greyhounds are only 1-6 all-time against Northside, and they have lost all three times they have played the Eagles at McConnell-Talbert Stadium. But at least they don’t have the McConnell-Talbert jinx still in effect. Jones County, which had lost seven in a row there, snapped that streak in its last visit, downing Warner Robins 34-10 in the final regular season game of 2015. The Greyhounds have not played there in the last two seasons. Jones County’s lone win against Northside came in Gray in 2014 when the Greyhounds shocked the Eagles 45-37 in Rogers’ first season as coach. Northside won 36-22 in Warner Robins in 2015. “Most of the guys who played in those games are long gone,” Rogers said. A handful of Jones County’s current seniors may have dressed out as freshmen the last time the Greyhounds played the Eagles, but few if any played. This year’s players did snap a losing streak against an old rival last week. Baldwin had won three in a row against Jones County – though the last meeting was 11 years ago – before being spanked by the Greyhounds, who improved to 5-9-3 all-time against the Braves. Jones County overcame a slow start and 7-0 deficit to score touchdowns on six consecutive possessions to secure the victory. Junior quarterback Hunter Costlow, the Allstate All-star for the game, completed 12 of 16 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns, two of them to junior Jontavias Robertson, who had five catches for 146 yards. Senior running back Semaj Ingram also had an outstanding game, running for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries and catching two passes for 21 yards to earn offensive player of the game honors. SophomorelinebackerDeonRichardsonwas defensive player of the game. He led the team with 18 tackles, including two for a loss. Junior John Walton deftly handled punt return duties with a series of fair catches to help the Greyhounds preserve field position to earn special teams player of the game honors. Offensive lineman of the week was junior center Rhett Huckeba with six pancake blocks. Sophomore running back Daniel Scott was scout team offensive player of the week, and sophomore defensive end Dquinton Smith was scout team defensive player of the week. “Costlow had a really good game for us, especially in the second half. He made some really good reads and threw the ball well,” Rogers said. “Completing 12 of 16 is great, especially since he had several balls dropped.
“And Semaj ran the ball hard. He’s one of those guys that gets better as the game goes on, because he runs with so much violence that people get tired of tackling him.”
The only negatives about last Friday’s game were the slow start and sloppy finish, Rogers said.
“I don’t know why, first home game and all, great crowd, neighbor opponent, but we came out flat. We let them drive down the field for a touchdown to start the game, then went three-and-out the first time we had it.
“But then we woke up and started playing,” he added. “The offense scored touchdowns on six drives in a row, and except for Baldwin’s last drive in the first half, the defensekeptthembottledup.”
The Braves drove 73 yards in 12 plays to open the game, scoring on a 1-yard keeper by Torez Hicks.
The Greyhounds finally got going late in the first quarter. They went 77 yards in 11 plays, with Ingram going 23 yards around left end for the touchdown to finish the drive early in the second quarter. A bad snap on the extra point try left Baldwin temporarily ahead 7-6.
But Jones County quickly remedied that, going 63 yards in nine plays. Sophomore Maleek Wooten scored on a 10-yard run, and freshman Evan West kicked the first of his five extra points to make it 13-7.
Baldwin, aided by several Jones County penalties, managed to drive to the 5 late in the first half. But after a penalty against the Braves, they had to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Lucas Webb when they ran out of time, sending the game into halftime with Jones County holding a narrow 13-10 lead.
The margin didn’t stay skinny long in the second half.
Robertson returned the opening kickoff nearly 60 yards to the 39, then a play later hauled in a 38-yard touchdown pass from Costlow to make it 20-10.
The next possession, Costlow finished an 83-yard drive with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Wooten to make it 27-10.
A 78-yard drive bracketing the end of the third quarter ended with Ingram getting his second touchdown on a 2-yard run, making it 34-10.
Jones County finished its scoring with a final quick strike, a 74-yard catch and run by Robertson on a perfectly thrown pass from Costlow to boost the lead to 41-10.
Then came the sloppy ending. After the second team offense was unable to move the ball, a high snap on a punt try turned really ugly when punter Colby Gordon chased the ball down and was tackled at the 1-yard line as he appeared to try to find room to kick the ball.
Hicks scored on the first play for Baldwin to make it 41-17.
An interception by DaCorius Jones on an overthrow on a long pass attempt by Dawson Skinner appeared to produce another Baldwin touchdown when Jones returned it to the end zone. But a block in the back during the return wiped out the score, and the Greyhounds were able to keep Baldwin from scoring in the final 1:21.
“It’s hard to find a way to win big and not be really happy about it, but that’s what we tried to do,” Rogers said.
“But it was a good win for us. We had a better week of practice, and after we got going we played better (than in a 34-28 win over Howard to open the season). I was glad that we didn’t play down to the competition, which we’ve done some in the past.”
Now comes a much bigger test in Jones County’s final non-region game.
Northside dropped from No. 3 to No. 8 in the Class 6A rankings by the AJC with its loss to Peach County, which moved up one spot to No. 3 in the Class 3A rankings. Jones County remained ranked No. 9 in Class 5A.
“I know they lost, but Northside has a very good team. So does Peach County. Peach was able to create some plays with their quarterback, and that was the difference,” Rogers said.
Peach’s Jaydon Gibson passed for 140 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 95 yards and another score.
But Northside quarterback Jadin Daniels could create the same sort of problems for the Greyhounds, Rogers warned. He passed for 120 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 114 yards last week.
“Trying to coral him is going to be a priority. We’re going to need somespeed on the field at linebacker to slow him down.
“Northside is Northside. They’re good at what they do. They play fast, run and hit, so you’re going to earn it if you beat them,” Rogers said.