The Greyhounds are in uncharted territory.
Jones County rallied in the second half to score six unanswered touchdowns to whip Griffin 49-14 in the state Class 5A quarterfinals in Gray Friday night, so the 12-1 Greyhounds will host 12-1 Buford next Friday night in a state semifinal game.
It is the most victories in a season ever for Jones County and the first time the Greyhounds have ever advanced past the third round of the state playoffs in football.
The victory was all the sweeter Friday night because the outlook appeared grim indeed heading into halftime.
Jones County senior quarterback Hunter Costlow injured his right shoulder when he was slung to the ground as he threw the ball away to avoid a sack late in the first quarter, and he was unable to return to action in the second quarter.
But he came back in the second half with his team trailing 14-7 and threw three touchdown passes and caught another as the Greyhounds scored 42 unanswered points to end Griffin’s season at 10-2.
The Greyhounds were unable to move the ball through much of the second period without Costlow, though they did miss a 45-yard field goal and had a pass intercepted in the end zone just before halftime.
The Jones County defense was able to keep Griffin bottled up much of the quarter, but the Bears were finally able to break through to score on a short pass with 2:49 to go to snap a 7-7 tie and take a 14-7 lead into halftime.
But the momentum shifted quickly in Jones County’s favor in the second half.
Maleek Wooten, for the second week in a row, returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown that tied the game.
The Greyhounds quickly got the ball back on a diving interception by Jitavious Whipple, and Costlow returned to the game and engineered a 72-yard drive to take a 21-14 lead when he connected with Jontavis Robertson for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
“I sprained my AC joint on like the third drive last week (against Cedar Shoals), but I was able to keep going,” Costlow said. “But when I got sacked (late in the first quarter Friday), I landed on the shoulder again and it hurt even worse. But it calmed down some during halftime and the adrenaline kicked in the second half and I could get it done.”
After taking the lead, Jones County got the ball back with an onside kick and went 34 yards in four plays. Costlow scored on a 4-yard halfback pass from Robertson, making it 28-14.
A 30-yard punt return by Robertson again gave the Greyhounds a short field, and Costlow hit Keagan Baxter with a 20-yard pass on the first play to boost the lead to 35-14.
Jones County added a 71-yard drive as the third quarter wound down, with Costlow again hitting Robertson, this time on a 9-yard fade, to make it 42-14.
The Jones County defense, meanwhile, kept Griffin’s high-powered offense, which came in averaging 38.75 points a game, out of the end zone the entire second half. And the defense provided the game’s final score, a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown by Dominic Bass.
The game started well for the Greyhounds as they drove 81 yards the first time they had the ball to take a 7-0 lead on a 7-yard sweep by Robertson.
Griffin put together its own long drive late in the first quarter to tie the game on a 3-yard keeper by quarterback Darshaveious Foster.
Foster hit Jamoi Mayes with a 5-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter to give the Bears a 14-7 lead.
“It was a great win for us,” Jones County coach Mike Chastain said. “Hunter has a bum shoulder, but he was able to come back out the second half and get it done. All the other guys picked it up, and the defense played great all night. Now we get to play another week at home.”
Buford advanced with a 24-21 win at previously unbeaten Carrollton (12-1) on Friday.
The other semifinal next week will feature Starr’s Mill (10-3) at Warner Robins (12-1). Starr’s Mill downed Dutchtown (11-2) 25-24 in overtime, and Warner Robins whipped Clarke-Central (8-4) 49-14 in their quarterfinal games.