“Three strikes, and you’re not out. There is always something else you can do.”
That quote, popularized by Mel Gibson while portraying Col. Harold G. Moore in the movie “We Were Soldiers,” has been embodied by the Greyhounds the last two weeks. After rallying to clinch the region title the week before at Dutchtown, that resilience was taken to a whole new level last Friday at Greyhound Stadium in a thrilling 27-25 win.
Clinging to a two-point lead with less than a minute to play, the Greyhounds playoff lives were on life support with the visiting Yellow Jackets inside the 20-yard line, needing only a field goal to pull the upset after JCHS led 21-0 in the second quarter.
As it turned out, the Greyhounds hopes may have been down, but not yet out.
Wayne County running back Trevin Wallace gashed through the middle of the Jones County defense, on his way to the go-ahead score. As he approached the goal line, however, the ball was popped loose, and Javious Bond came up with the loose ball. After a brief conference by game officials, it was ruled a touchback, giving the Greyhounds the ball to run out the clock.
“I just knew we had to get the ball,” Bond, who had 11 tackles on Friday, said. “I went for the ball; it came out and recovered it. We’re glad to win.”
Jones County will now host Griffin in the second round on Friday. The Bears finished second in GHSA Region 2-AAAAA and beat Jonesboro 49-0 on Friday. Like the Greyhounds, Griffin took some lumps against a tough non-region schedule. The Bears started 1-3, losing to Peach County, Lowndes and Lovejoy, two teams of which advanced to the second round. Since then, Griffin has won six out of seven. The winner of Friday’s game advances to the quarterfinals against either New Manchester or Eastside.
It’ll be a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal, won 49-14 by JCHS, which has won its last three overall matchups against Griffin, which also includes a first-round win in 2017.
For most of a half on Friday, the Greyhounds were on their way to what was being molded into a breeze of a win. Winning the field position battle, Jones County got a pair of first-half touchdown passes from John Alan Richter to Maleek Wooten and Zion Ragins to lead 21-0 with 3:42 left in the half. Richter was 10-of-18 passing for 193 yards. The first of those touchdown passes, to Wooten, put JCHS up 7-0 from 38 yards away less than five minutes into the game while the score to Ragins came off of a well-executed tunnel screen from 34 yards away. They were sandwiched around an eightyard run up the middle by Andrew Caner, a play set up by the Greyhounds taking over at the Yellow Jackets 28-yard line after a blocked punt.
Ragins ended up being the Greyhounds leading receiver, five catches for 108 yards, with Wooten catching three passes for 64 yards.
Then, the Yellow Jackets opted to move Wallace, usually a fourstar linebacker who until the past week was verbally committed to Boston College, into the offensive backfield. To say that the move paid dividends may be one of the biggest understatements of the century. Lining up mostly in the wildcat formation and taking direct snaps, Wallace used his frame and size to his full advantage, shoving and shaking off would-be tacklers as the game went on.
How troublesome was the six-foot-two, 217-pound Wallace to the Jones County defense? He rushed for 382 yards and three touchdowns.
“He had the mindset that he was going for the same thing we were going for,” said Jones County linebacker Deon Richardson, who led the Greyhounds with 14 tackles.
One big run by Wallace set up a one-yard touchdown, and the Yellow Jackets also scraped up a field goal before half. All of a sudden, the visitors had momentum, down 21-10 at halftime.
It’d be a teaser of what was to come.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Wallace shook off multiple tacklers and 81 yards later, the Jones County lead was cut to 21-16. Even with Wallace visibly showing signs of fatigue and leaving the game twice with apparent injuries, JCHS still had no answer for him. That included a fourth and two, when he somehow broke away from the Greyhounds containment on the left side for a 32-yard touchdown run, having to be helped off the field after scoring and giving the Yellow Jackets a 22-21 advantage, one that grew to 25-21 with 3:48 to go in the third on a 32-yard field goal.
“It was a defensive game all night,” Jones County safety Connor Bass, whose night included 13 tackles, said. “We believed all night. We knew what they were going to do, who their guys were. We just had to figure out how to stop them, and we came out and did.”
But like a week ago at Dutchtown, Jones County had within itself another comeback. Stringing together their first drive of substance in the second half, the Greyhounds drove inside the Yellow Jackets 20-yard line to face a fourth and one. Chances of going for it ended on an illegal procedure penalty, prompting a 27-yard Evan West field goal, trimming the Wayne County lead to 25-24.
It wouldn’t be the only misstep by JCHS in the red zone.
West drilled a 25-yarder with 7:27 to go, one that put the Greyhounds in front, but the drive nearly resulted in a touchdown. Facing a third and short, JCHS dialed up a trick play, pitching the ball to receiver Tucker Mix, who threw the ball towards Richter in the end zone, but the pass was broken up.
Somehow, even with Wallace slowed by injury, the Greyhounds still needed to get a lategame stop. JCHS had a chance to put the game away on the Wayne County end of a field with the Yellow Jackets backed up at their own 25-yard line, needing 37 yards to convert on third down after being penalized three times on one play. Wayne County did just that, netting a completion near midfield and getting yardage tacked on by a facemask penalty against the Greyhounds.
With enough energy to get back in the game, Wallace converted a third and two at the 24-yard line, putting the Yellow Jackets in position for what appeared to be an easy field goal, one that JCHS never allowed to happen.
“It’s all we had to do, just believe,” Bond said. “We had to do it; we pulled it out.”
To listen to Friday night’s playoff game, visit https://mixlr.com/greyhoundsports
“It’s all we had to do, just believe. We had to do it; we pulled it out.”
— JAVIOUS BOND