A perfect night for football greeted the fans who stamped into Bartow Memorial Stadium for last night’s key district game between visiting George Jenkins and the undefeated Yellow Jackets. And in it Bartow not only dropped it’s first district game of the season it was also the team’s first loss as it is now 3-1.
Tyreese Cruz took the opening kickoff to the 24 to get things started. Before the first
play could get underway, Jenkins was called for offsides. With first and short, Dimitri Leverett pitched to Dwayne Daughtry for a 14-yard gain and a first down. Jenkins stiffened on defense, setting up a punt by Alex Montes. A good return set up the Eagles past the midfield stripe. Successive running plays moved the chains until a holding call slowed the drive. Jenkins went to the air, but could not connect on a long pass. Facing third and long, Jenkins quarterback Jaylen Odum found Lovester Marshall streaking across the middle and Jenkins drew first blood with a 42-yard touchdown pass. The extra point failed when the try was backed up to be equal to a 35-yard field goal after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Jenkins led 6-0 with 8:31 to play in the first.
Bartow received the kickoff, but faced some anxious moments when special team players and defensive specialist Brandon Carey had to be helped from the field. Two short gains by Cruz were followed by Leverett’s run, but the Jacket QB was hauled down by the face mask. The infraction gave Bartow a first down, but a false start set the team back five. A long pass to Tre Jordan was broken up by Jenkins defender Levanta Byers. Leverett tried a run and got nothing to show for it, getting Bartow into a third and long position. A pass to Jordan rolled to the ground incomplete as Montes came on to punt. The high kick struck a Bartow defender heading downfield and again Jenkins had good field position.
Jenkins started off their drive by keeping the ball on the ground. Former Jacket Kahlil Holt converted a third down for the Eagles and the chains moved again with a 17-yard completion to Marshall. The drive would stall after nine total plays and a 40-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left. Bartow took over at the 20 and ran out the clock for the first quarter. After changing ends, Leverett was sacked for the second time in the drive and Montes kicked it away again, this time from his own end zone.
The Odum-to-Marshall combination worked again for 14 yards and another first down in the Eagles’ first possession of the new quarter. The Bartow defense allowed only short gains, but the field position battle was clearly in favor of Jenkins. Facing fourth and short, Odum carried on a keeper to get the first at the 18. After an offensive penalty, Odum went on a scramble and was hit out of bounds to set up better field position. Odum carried again to get George Jenkins to a first and goal at the five. After Holt bulled to the one, Odum took the quarter back sneak onto pay dirt, giving Jenkins a12-0 advantage with 5:46 to go in the half.
A fair catch infraction took good field position away, putting Bartow in business at the 25. Bartow went to the air as Leverett found Jordan for a 46-yard pitch and catch, followed by Leverett hooking up with Daughtry for a 17-yard gain. The Jackets went back to the ground to inch closer to the goal line. With the drive stalled at the 10, Montes bashed home a 25-yard field goal to put Bartow on the board.
Disaster struck immediately as La’Darrian Bowman took the ball at the 1 and ran up the middle of the field for the third Eagle touchdown. The extra point failed with 2:18 to play in the half.
Tre Jordan took the short kickoff and fought forward to get it to the 45. No positive yards came from the first two plays and a short gain left Bartow with fourth down and 17 seconds on the clock. Matt Martin came on to punt, sending a line drive that was fumbled but retrieved. Jenkins offense took a knee and went to the locker room with a 18-3 lead over the home team.
George Jenkins would receive the opening kickoff … in theory as Alex Montes blasted it seven yards deep in the end zone. Bartow’s defense bent, giving a first down carry to Holt. The Eagles went after big plays by going with passing and linebacker John Kilpatrick broke up what could have been a first down, forcing the punt. Devon McCoy received the kick and Bartow would get their first chance of the second half at the 29. Cruz carried for five, he busted a big gainer, getting 42 and then Leverett found McCoy for 10 more. Leverett then scampered right up the middle untouched to the end zone. Montes booted the ball from the hold of Troy Jones to close the gap to 18-10.
As Jenkins struggled to reach a first down, coming up a foot short, tempers flared and each team was assessed a dead ball unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It remained fourth and short and Jenkins punted to end the drive. Bartow had a quick three-and-out, sending Martin back in punt formation. His line drive kick brought no return, but did see a block in the back penalty on George Jenkins. The ground game was working as the Eagles picked up a first down. To shake things up, Jenkins went to the air and a pass was broken up by Ronald Robinson to stop the drive and set up yet another punt.
Trailing by 8, Bartow set about closing the gap on the scoreboard. The drive lasted two plays when the Bartow runner coughed up the ball and Jenkins took control, running one play before the quarter ended.
The final stanza would open with Jenkins only 24 yards away from another score. A quick 19 yard gain by workhorse Quenshon Miller set up first and goal. Holt charged to the end zone, but fumbled and Bartow claimed possession. In the shadow of their own goalpost, Bartow moved out with an 11 yard gain by Daughtry, but the defensive pressure pushed Bartow back to the 7. From his own end zone, Leverett took off and came up a few feet short of the first down. An illegal shift nullified Leverett’s first down run. It became fourth and six at the 20, Jordan went downfield 10 yards, turned and caught the pass of Leverett for a first down. Leverett went back to pass, was hit as he threw and the ball was picked off by Geddes Willis, who returned it to the 10. That was backed up to the 25 due to a penalty. Three plays later, Miller put his name in the scoring records with a 17 yard scamper into the end zone. The score went to 24-10.
On the following kick, Tre Jordan returned it and, as he was being tackled, the ball was snatched out of his hands by Geddes Willis, who raced in for the score. Jordan remained on the field with an injury, carried off on a stretcher after a 15 minute treatment. The extra point missed the mark and the score stood at 30-10.
Trying to gain a score, Bartow went to the air. A missed connection resulted in Levante Byers picking off the pass. George Jenkins opted to keep it on the ground and keep the clock moving. It only stopped to move the chains, cementing the Jenkins win. Bartow had not lost to Jenkins in a regular season contest since an 18-7 loss in 2002.
The loss moves the Jackets to 2-1 on the season and 0-1 in district play. It’s a return to the road for the annual Highway 17 Bowl, this year at Fort Meade next Friday. The game starts at 7 p.m.