Both teams undefeated entering showdown for the Region 4-5A lead
JCHS holds on in sloppy second half to down Wildcats 42-28
Jones County remained undefeated with a 42-28 victory over winless Locust Grove last Friday, but the Greyhounds will have to play much better this week on the road to keep their record unblemished.
It is showdown week, and the 6-0 Greyhounds visit defending region champion Dutchtown, also 6-0, in a battle for the Region 4-5A lead.
Third-ranked Jones County, No. 4 Dutchtown and No. 6 Stockbridge are all tied at the top of the region standings. Stockbridge plays at Union Grove this week and at Dutchtown Oct. 25. Jones County finishes the regular season at Stockbridge on Nov. 8, so there is still plenty of football before the region champion is decided.
But this Friday’s game could well eliminate one of the contenders. The Greyhounds lost to Dutchtown and Stockbridge both last season to finish third in the standings, their only losses in the regular season.
Dutchtown was 12-1 last season, making it to the quarterfinals before falling to Rome 28-14. The Bulldogs are 25-5 in their third season under Clifford Fedd.
“They’ve got a really good defense. Even before they got so good last year, they were tough on defense,” Jones County coach Mike Chastain said.
“We can’t have the mistakes and the dumb penalties we had last week. We need to be crisp and play fast.”
Stopping the Bulldogs will also be a task.
“Their offense is pretty sporty. They like to run, but they’ve got some receivers who can catch the ball,” Chastain said. “Their quarterback (junior Arendez Fedd) is the coach’s son, and he does a great job. He’s big (6-1, 195) and can throw, and he runs the ball well, too. Anytime you have that it can be tough.
“We haven’t talked about Dutchtown at all until this week. But hopefully the guys will be ready for this,” Chastian added. “Hopefully we’ll have a big crowd go up there and give us a good 12th man with their support. It should be a great night for football – 72 degrees and clear skies. Hope we play well.”
They may not have talked about Dutchtown as a team, but surely the players knew where the Bulldogs were on the schedule. Whether anticipation of this week’s game played a part in last week’s struggles is uncertain. But struggle the Greyhounds did to put away Locust Grove.
Jones County scored touchdowns the first four times it had the ball in the opening half, and Evan West was just a little short on a 52-yard field goal try as time expired before halftime.
But the Greyhounds were far from efficient in building their 28-7 lead, and they were befuddled with penalties in the second half as they tried to rest starters and run out the clock.
Before the night was over, Jones County had been flagged 16 times for 159 yards and Locust Grove 15 times for 135. Snails could have played a quicker game.
Jones County took the opening kickoff and went 85 yards for the game’s first score, a 4-yard catch by Maleek Wooten. But it took 12 plays and more than half the quarter to reach the end zone.
“That drive took forever. We want to play quick, but with penalties and missed plays we never could get it sped up,” Chastain said.
The Greyhounds added a 61-yard drive next, with Andrew Carner scoring on a 20-yard run. The junior finished with 84 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries to earn offensive and Allstate Allstar of the Game honors.
Junior linebacker Javorious Venerable, who was in on seven tackles and recovered a fumble, was defensive player of the game, and junior Daniel Scott was special teams player of the game.
Senior quarterback Hunter Costlow completed 14 of 21 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and was sacked six times.
Senior Jontavis Robertson had three catches for 53 yards and sophomore Keagan Baxter had two catches for 63 yards to lead the receivers.
Locust Grove drove to the Jones County 10 early in the second quarter but lost the ball on a fumble.
The Greyhounds nearly lost the ball right back with a fumble of their own, but they recovered and marched down to score two touchdowns. The first, a 12-yard pass to Caden Mutchler, was called back due to a lineman being too far down field. But Costlow hit John Walton with a 17-yard touchdown pass on the next play that boosted Jones County’s lead to 21-0.
Then a couple of special teams mistakes led to Locust Grove’s first score. First came a roughing the kicker call as the Greyhounds tried to block a punt at the Wildcats’ 24. The visitors stalled again at the 39, but this time they scored on a fake punt when Tyler Raines, one of the blocking backs, took the snap and burst through the middle of the line and raced in for the touchdown.
Jones County answered with a fiveplay, 61-yard drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Matthew Sheffield. The big play was a 41-yard catch by Baxter.
The Greyhounds got the ball one more time before halftime and quickly went 43 yards before calling on sophomore Evans on the half’s final play to try a 52-yard field goal that landed under the crossbar.
After trading punts to start the second half, an interception by Javius Bond gave the Greyhounds the ball at the Locust Grove 15. Sheffield got his second touchdown on a 7-yard run that made it 35-7.
Things began to go downhill for the Greyhounds after that.
First, Evans hurt his shoulder making a tackle on the kickoff return and was sidelined for the rest of the game. Chastain said the diminutive sophomore should be able to play this week, however.
After forcing a quick punt, the Greyhounds found themselves backed up to the 11 by a penalty. Costlow tried to pass over the middle but was picked off by Blaise Maddox, who had a 15-yard return for the touchdown that cut the lead to 35-14.
More penalties kept the Greyhounds bottled up but freshman Landon Gish, subbing for Evans, got off a good punt, and the kick was touched by a Locust Grove defender and recovered by Jones County so that the Greyhounds retained possession at the 44.
They again had a touchdown called back for an illegal man downfield on a 15-yard pass to Carner, but the junior ran the ball in two plays later to make it 42-14.
More Jones County penalties helped Locust Grove complete a 65-yard scoring drive, with Jordan Reynolds hitting Billy Ward with a 14-yard touchdown pass to make it 42-21.
The Greyhounds managed only one first down before having to punt. The Wildcats then drove 66 yards in eight plays, scoring on a 4-yard run by Ward to make it 42-28.
Jones County returned its starters to the field on offense and they were able to drive out to the 39 before punting again.
This time, the defense limited Locust Grove to one first down before stopping the Wildcats at the 38, and the Greyhounds were able to run out the clock to finally secure the win.
“We had too many penalties and mistakes, but we also had some guys make good plays and do some things,” Chastain said. “The two freshmen kickers (Gish and Kolby Knowles) came in and made some good kicks. Gish had some good punts and Knowles kicked the extra point and put his kickoff where we needed it. Our defensive backs made some plays.
“We were just hurt by the penalties and some other mistakes. It’s kind of a blessing it happened last week and we were able to overcome them. But there are some things that need to be addressed this week before we get into these tougher games. We need to be smarter and more efficient.”
In other region games last week, Dutchtown beat Woodland-Stockbridge 30-3, Stockbridge downed Ola 27-22 and Union Grove beat Eagle’s Landing 28-7.
Jones County’s junior varsity team defeated Northeast-Macon last Thursday. Details of the game were not available.
Southwest-Macon has canceled its game with the Greyhounds this week, so Jones County will combine its freshmen and junior varsity teams to host Peach County at 5 p.m. on Thursday.