The Jones County Greyhounds overcame South Effingham and the elements Friday night in Gray to win their first-round game in the GHSA Class 5A state playoffs 26-13.
That means the Greyhounds (10-1) will be at home again next Friday to host Cedar Shoals (8-3) in the second round.
Maybe the field at Greyhound Stadium will have time to dry out by then.
Friday’s game was played in a steady rain, usually light but also usually blowing sideways down the field by a strong wind that never let up. By the end, the field was mostly soup.
Both team’s offenses started quickly.
Jones County, the top seed from Region 4-5A, drove 61 yards in four plays to open the game, starting with Jontavis Robertson picking up 35 yards on a tunnel screen and ending with Hunter Costlow hitting Maleek Wooten with a 16-yard fade to the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Evan West’s extra point kick made it 7-0.
South Effingham (6-5), the No. four seed from Region 2-5A, answered with a 10-play, 59-yard drive capped with a 5-yard touchdown run by Cameron Edwards. But the Mustangs’ extra point kick was blocked, leaving Jones County with a 7-6 lead.
The Greyhounds struck even quicker the second time they got the ball. First, Keagan Baxter fielded a squib kickoff and tossed the ball back to Wooten who cut back across the field and returned it to the South Effingham 21.
Wooten ran for 8 yards on first down and Andrew Carner went through the middle of the line for the 13 yards on second down for the touchdown. West’s kick made it 14-6.
The Mustangs drove to the Jones County 13 but were stopped and Liam Rickman missed a 35-yard field goal try, giving the Greyhounds the ball at the 20.
Carner then had the run of the season for Jones County. He dashed through left tackle and had enough yards for a first down when he was hit. But he rolled over the tackler and regained his feet without touching the ground and then outraced everyone to the end zone to complete the 80-yard touchdown run.
West slipped down and was unable to make the extra point, leaving the Greyhounds with a 20-6 lead.
Jones County’s defense was able to keep South Effingham in check the rest of the first half.
The Greyhounds added one more touchdown late in the second quarter when Matthew Sheffield broke free over left tackle for a 50-yard touchdown run, making it 26-6.
The Mustangs drove to the Jones County 6 to open the second half but the Greyhounds held on fourth down.
South Effingham final scored the next time it got the ball on a 40-yard pass down the middle from Taylor Jackson to Noah Hoang, cutting the lead to 26-13.
But the Greyhounds were able to keep the Mustangs from scoring the rest of the game while working to run the clock when they had the ball and held on for the victory.
Cedar Shoals, the third seed from Region 8-5A, won 30-12 at Carver-Atlanta, the second seed from Region 6-5A, to advance to the second round.
In first round games for the other Region 4-5A teams, second seed Dutchtown downed Statesboro 20-0 Friday. Stockbridge, which handed Jones County its only loss last week to claim the region’s third seed, was eliminated 30-3 by Wayne County. And Ola, the fourth seed, lost 35-22 at Ware County.