The Yellow Jackets broke its four-game losing streak, beating Sebring in 24-7 Friday night.
The tardiness led to a 30-minute delay in the start of the district matchup between the Jackets and the Blue Streaks. Both teams were looking for their first 2012 district win and Bartow seeking to rebound from a four-game losing streak. Last year, Bartow got the best of Sebring for their lone district win.
With heavy wind blowing from the outskirts of Hurricane Sandy, Sebring couldn’t get things started and punted after five plays on its first possession. Bartow set up on its first possession on the 20.
An eight yard completion from Dimitri Leverett to Jeramy Williams on the first play gave hope, but the next snap sailed over the head of Leverett as lineman Jimmie Whitfield recovered after a loss of 19. An incomplete pass led to a Bartow punt into the wind. The bouncing ball grazed a Blue Streak player, but the home team recovered at the 28. Keeping the ball on the ground, Sebring rolled in on four plays to take a 7-0 lead at the 6:47 mark in the first quarter.
On Bartow’s next possession, it couldn’t do anything and punted the ball away. On the second play though, the Sebring quarterback bobbled the snap and Gabriel Al-Shaer fell on it to give the Jackets great field position. The Jackets took a page from the home team game plan and used the ground to head to the end zone. Khalil Holt got the call on fourth and short from the six and got more than the first down, jumping the pile and dragging tacklers to the end zone with 1:10 to play. Alex Montes bottled the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.
Bartow took the lead when a 40 yard attempt with the wind at his back turned into a chip shot and the Jackets had their first lead at 10-7 with 10:08 to play in the half.
Sebring opened the third period with a pooch kick that recovered by the Blue Streaks at the 36. No play gained a single yard and Sebring punted, a 21 yard high boot that Vontarius West fielded with a fair catch. Michael Walker took the first carry and gained 30. A Leverett to Graham connection for 19 was aided by a Sebring personal foul to move the ball to the 2. Leverett kept it off right tackle to score to make Bartow the leader 17-7 with 8:13 to play in the third.
Sebring opened the fourth with a pair of runs, but chose to go to the air on third down.
A couple of short gainers followed until Holt barged through for a 36 yard gain.
Bartow had an incomplete pass on third and goal, but got a new set of downs thanks to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Montes missed a field goal.
The home squad got the ball, but deep in their own territory with six minutes to play and trailing by 10.
A pass was nearly picked off by West. The next pass was snatched out of the air by Stevenson, who darted down the Bartow sideline for a touchdown. The snap for the extra point was on the money and so was the Montes kick. Stevenson’s 20 yard return highlighted the strong defensive effort and Bartow took control 24-7 with 5:34 to play.
Sebring was faced with having to throw the football because there was less than 5:30 to play and they needed three scores.
Sebring could not muster a charge. After an intentional grounding call, the Streaks took the second time out, putting strategy clearly in the hands of Bartow.
The Sebring punt came with 4:28 to play with no one deep for Bartow. The ball rolled out at the 4, a 66 yard punt.
The Bartow offense had to be careful to avoid a safety. Running plays kept the clock moving, but Bartow only managed three plays before kicking into the wind.
Sebring would get good field position at the 17 with a net punt of 8 yards. Three straight passes, including one nearly intercepted by Battle, could not get the results Sebring was seeking. They used a lineman to run the fourth down carry and it came up a few links short. Bartow took the ball and kept it on the ground to seal the victory.
The win evened the Jackets at 4-4 overall and 1-1 in the district.