The Greyhounds have advanced to the state quarterfinals for the third time in the last six years, and this time they will be playing at home.
Jones County held off Cedar Shoals 17-6 in a very tight game in Gray Friday night in the second round of the Class 5A state football playoffs.
Now 11-1, the Greyhounds host Griffin in a quarterfinal game at 7:30 p.m. next Friday night in Gray. Griffin, also 11-1, advanced with a 49-14 home win over Hiram on Friday.
Tickets will be $12, the price set by the GHSA.
Jones County’s defense was magnificent Friday night, holding Cedar Shoals to a pair of field goals. The Jaguars were able to move the ball some in the middle of the field, with senior quarterback Jaylan Rusher doing much of the damage on delay keepers into the line.
But the Greyhounds were able to stiffen whenever the visitors approached the goal line and were able to keep them out of the end zone all night.
“The defense played great, but it was a great game by the whole team,” Jones County coach Mike Chastain said. “We kept battling a really good team all the way.”
Jones County drove 82 yards in 13 plays the first time it got the ball, with quarterback Hunter Costlow scoring on an 11-yard keeper to stake the Greyhounds to a 7-0 lead.
They appeared to add another touchdown on their next possession, but a 31-yard reception and run to the end zone by Maleek Wooten was called back on illegal block, and Costlow was intercepted in the end zone on the first play of the second quarter.
Cedar Shoals finally managed to score with 5:53 to go in the first half, with William Fang connecting on a 24-yard field goal after Jones County stopped a drive at the 7.
The Greyhounds, meanwhile, were unable to add to their lead. They were able to move the ball some, but penalties short-circuited several drives, and Costlow was intercepted again on the final play of the first half.
But Jones County got a little breathing room when Wooten returned the opening kick of the second half nearly 85 yards for a touchdown, putting the Greyhounds ahead 14-3.
The Jaguars answered with a long drive to the 10 before stalling and having to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Fang.
The rest of the third quarter and much of the fourth followed the pattern of both teams moving the ball in the middle of the field but being unable to get into the end zone. Jones County’s defense made a great stand during that stretch, stopping the Jaguars on three plays inside the 10.
The Greyhounds finally were able to drive from their 23 to the Cedar Shoals 23 before stalling, but Evan West booted a 43-yard field goal to boost their lead to 17-6 with 3:20 to play.
The Jaguars managed one last drive to the Jones County 28, but Dominic Bass intercepted a pass at about the 10 with 56 seconds left and the Greyhounds were able to run out the clock for the win.
Cedar Shoals finishes the season with an 8-4 record.
Jones County advanced to the quarterfinals in 2014 but lost 44-14 at Mays. The Greyhounds got back to the quarterfinals in 2017 but lost 26-21 at Carver-Atlanta.
Jones County has never advanced past the third round in the state football playoffs.
The Jones County-Griffin winner will play the Buford-Carrollton winner in the semifinals.
Buford (11-1) downed Ware County 34-6 and Carrollton (12-0) eliminated Veterans 21-10 on Friday.
On the other side of the bracket, Clarke-Central downed Wayne County 28-20, Warner Robins beat Rome 25-17, Dutchtown ripped Riverwood 31-7 and Starr’s Mill eliminated Kell 45-28.
Clarke-Central (9-3) plays at Warner Robins (11-1) and Dutchtown (11-1) plays at Starr’s Mill (9-3) in the quarterfinals next week.