For the first time since the 2003 season the Toombs County Bulldogs and the Jeff Davis Yellow Jackets will play each other with both teams bringing winning record into Friday’s 7:30 Region 2 game, in Hazlehurst, on Y-101 Radio and streamed on Mixlr.
The 2003 Yellow Jackets were 3-2 and on a three game winning streak. The Bulls that season had the same record and had won two straight.The Dawgs won the Booster Stadium game 40-6, which was the third win in their seven game winning streak to end the regular season.
6th grade Toombs County Middle School coach John McDonald was a senior that season and was the starting quarterback. He watched some video highlights of the game and says he threw for roughly 180 yards and tossed two touchdown passes- one each to Chuck Hill and Kirk Brantley. Morris Smith scored a couple of rushing touchdowns and wingback Robert Robinson and Brian “Buddy” Johnson each scored once on the ground.
In Friday’s 21st meeting between the two schools the Bulldogs will bring a 4-0 record to JD while the Yellow Jackets counter with a 3-1 mark. Jeff Davis opened the season with two non region wins- at home over Atkinson County 48-7 and on the road at Long County 39-14. The Yellow Jackets began Region 2 play with a 35-21 home loss to Bacon and then they rebounded with a 27-7 victory at Metter last Friday. The Bacon game was close until late in the second half.
The Yellow Jackets have a new head coach this season. Lance Helton is the head man for the first time in his career. Helton, who was an Class 3A AJC All-State Honorable Mention in 2004 (Toombs County’s Brandon Sharpe was AA Honorable Mention that season) and GSWA All-State First Team that same season, originally signed with Ball State. However, he transferred to Valdosta State. The 6-3 306 pound guard played significant time on the offensive line in 2008 and ‘09 and he played on VSU’s Gulf South Conference championship team in 2010.
Helton was an assistant coach at Coffee County and Dublin before joining the Yellow Jackets late this past winter. He inherited 13 starters from the 2-7 2016 team led by senior running backs (#21) Alex Sanders and (#34) Jaylene Kirby. Sanders also plays baseball and he went 2-for-5, with a double and a walk, against the Bulldogs in the GHSA Class AA semifinals playing left and right field and batting ninth in the state champion’s batting order.
With Helton having the Dublin connection that means the Bulldog defense is going to be seeing the Wing T. “We don’t see much Wing-T,” Toombs head coach Richie Marsh said. “In the southern most part of the state it was a huge offense about 12 or 13 years ago. Seemed like everybody was running it and then it kind of died out. At some places you still have Wing-T guys and they are true blood and with him (coach Helton) being from Dublin where Roger Holmes is one of the guru’s of the Wing T. He and Robby Pruitt (head coach at Warner Robbins, Fitzgerald and Coffee County in Georgia). Lance is a disciple of Roger Holmes. So, he knows how to do it well.
The Bulldog defense has held all four opponents under 20 points in each game and is yielding 11.5 points per contest. Plus, the three wins- over East Laurens, Telfair County and Bacon County- have been decided by a total of nine points. The Bulldogs sealed each victory with a big defensive play- an Ervin Mincey sack in Paulson Stadium, Ashlee Ashley’s stop on a two-point conversion against Telfair and a Jonathan Benjamin interception late in the Bacon game.
“We have been playing pretty good on defense for the most part.” Marsh said. “It seems like we have some good first halves. We have to clean up our execution in the second half. We are still having trouble with some of our gaps. It still has to do with kids not having the energy in the second half and that’s on me.”
Bulldogs score early & then often in the Pit
Jamar Smith scored the first four touchdowns and his backup Javon Edwards the last two and in between tight end Eric Hester tallied his first career TD as the Toombs County Bulldogs beat Jeff Davis 47-8 in the Pit for their first Region 2 victory of the season. Smith ran for 251 yards on 24 carries averaging 10.1 yards per carry. Smith’s four touchdowns tied his career high (Long County in 2012 and the triple OT loss to Bryan County this season). Jamar has run for 949 yards through five games and he is averaging 189 yards per game and 7.5 per carry with 12 touchdowns. the Dawgs rushed for a season-high 341 yards against the Yellow Jackets. The Bulldogs stopped a three game losing streak and ran their record to 2-3 overall and 1-3 in the region.
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The Bulldogs seemed determined to score their first opening quarter points of the season. They took the ball after winning the coin flip. However, they fumbled and JD recovered In the final minute of the first quarter, the Toombs defense stopped the Jackets and the Dawgs loaded up the line with all 11 players and forced a punt that wound up netting negative yardage. The Bulldogs took over at the JD 10 and then Smith ran the ball in from there with 1:09 to play in the first quarter. An Oswaldo Guzman PAT made it 7-0.
Smith scored the Bulldogs second touchdown on a 28-yard run into the north end zone with 3:22 to go in the second quarter and it looked like the they were going to take a 14-0 lead into the half. However, in the final 10 second Toombs was punting and a high snap went into the endzone and Brandon Dowd was force to nudge it out of play for a two-point safety.
Special teams helped the Bulldogs score three quick touchdowns on three Jeff Davis turnovers starting off the second half. Guzman twice kicked the ball high and short and the Yellow Jackets fumbled the ball and the Dawgs recovered the loose pigskin and JD fumbled on the first play of another possession and TCHS recovered. Through their first four games the Bulldogs had only forced thre turnovers- two fumbles and an interception. In this game JD lost four fumbles.
Smith scored on a five-yard run 31 second into the third period and then scooted 24-yards for six with 9:49 to play in the quarter. Hester finished a short Bulldog drive with 7:05 left in the third and suddenly Toombs had a 35-2 lead.
Edwards added a one-yard run with 28 seconds left in the third quarter and a 12-yard run halfway through the fourth quarter. Justin Kight scored the Yellow Jackets only touchdown in the final two minutes of a running clock fourth quarter.
Dawgs roll up 41 in 3rd shutout win
The first two minutes of the Toombs County Bulldogs Region 2 game at Jeff Davis set the tone for the next 46 minutes. Bulldog junior defensive back Chris Mobley picked off a pass at the Yellow Jacket 45-yard line and then sophomore tailback Jamar Smith ran 43-yards, down a wide open right side of the field, for the first of his three straight touchdowns in a 41-0 victory. Jamar also scored on a 12-yard run on fourth down with 1:47 to play in the first quarter and on a 39-yard effort with 11:31 left in the second quarter.
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Mark Terrell scored two touchdowns. His first, a 24-yard run with 8:18 to play in the second quarter, gave Toombs a 28-0 halftime lead. Terrell scored the first TD of the second half on a two-yard sweep. Ben Brantley scored on a fourth down keeper from two-yards out to end the Bulldog scoring with 8:46 left in the game.
The Yellow Jackets best chance to score was set up by the Bulldogs only turnover. Brantley and Smith collided on a handoff and the Yellow Jackets scooped up the loose ball in the red zone at the TCHS 18. However, the Dawgs were determined to preserve their third shutout of the season. Tomond Hampton, who played a limited amount of plays on defense, broke through and sacked the quarterback on fourth down to end the threat.