By SHELIA LANGBARTELS, O.D.
In their toughest challenge yet, the Jefferson Bulldogs stunned the Mount Vernon Tigers in a 20-14 victory on the road. Playing on a wet, messy field, the Bulldogs took advantage of five Tiger turnovers to remain unbeaten (7-0, 3-0).
Mount Vernon received the opening kickoff and began at their 16-yard line. The wet conditions came into play early, as the Tigers fumbled on the first series. Bulldog Eric Gipson recovered the ball, and then Dee Black rushed for the first score of the night. Landon Fuquay’s PAT was good, and the Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead with only 30 seconds gone. After the kickoff, the Tigers began driving down the field. Lyrik Rawls made a touchdown-saving tackle and forced a fumble. Jefferson recovered the fumble and took possession on their own 12-yard line. Black took advantage of some excellent blocking by TQ Jackson and sprinted to the Mount Vernon 48. The Dawgs were unable to find the end zone on this series, but the punt by Camden Simpson backed the Tigers up to their own 7. The Tigers picked up a couple first downs, but the drive stalled around the 35-yard line. Mount Vernon went for it on 4th & 6; however, the fierce Dawg defense stopped them, and Jefferson took over on downs. The first quarter ended with Jefferson on top, 7-0.
The Bulldogs started on offense in the second quarter and began driving. Trey Hodge completed a 30-yard pass to Kylan Thomas to the Tiger 10-yard line. After a holding penalty against Jefferson brought up 3rd & 17, Black rushed inside the 1. Hodge pushed into the endzone on the 4th down play to increase the Bulldog lead with 9:39 left in the first half. The PAT was blocked, making the score 13-0. Following the kickoff, Mount Vernon started driving and crossed the 50 into Dawg territory. Trace Smith promptly delivered a hit that forced the runner to fumble, and Jacari Mosley recovered it. This offensive series resulted in a punt for the Bulldogs, and Mount Vernon took back over on offense. The Tigers drove to the Bulldog 28, and seemed to be in scoring position, when Lyrik Rawls picked off a pass. With the Dawgs back on offense, rushes by Black and Thomas got the Bulldogs into Tiger territory. Hodge completed a pass to Kenneth Bell for 18 yards to get Jefferson into the red zone. Hodge then pushed his way into the end zone for the third Bulldog touchdown of the night. Fuquay added a PAT to expand the Jefferson lead to 20-0, with only 36 ticks left in the first half.
To start the second half, Mount Vernon kicked an onside kick and recovered it at Jefferson’s 46-yard line. After a sustained drive, the Tigers found the end zone, but Bryson Johnson blocked the extra point, bringing the score to 20-6 with 6:42 left in the 3rd quarter. The Tigers attempted another onside kick, but it was recovered by the Bulldogs on their own 47. Jefferson crossed midfield, but then fumbled the ball, their only turnover of the night. The Bulldogs immediately forced and recovered yet another Tiger fumble, and they went back to work on offense. The Dawgs worked their way down the field, but came up short on a 4th and 2 play, so the Tigers ended up with the ball to end the 3rd quarter.
The Tigers made things interesting in the 4th quarter, burning up almost four minutes of clock on their way to a rushing touchdown. Their 2-point conversion was good, as they closed in on the Bulldogs, 20-14. Mount Vernon attempted another onside kick, but Bell fell on it to give Jefferson’s offense another chance. The drive stalled, and the Bulldogs punted to the Tigers. With still over six minutes left in the game, Mount Vernon began driving. The Dawgs tipped a pass, and then Trace Smith and Henry Hill tackled a Tiger in the backfield. The Tigers were on their own 35, looking at 4th & 15, when they gained the first down on a reverse play. They crossed the 50-yard line with 1:43 left in the game on the first down play, but the Dawg defense held them to no gain on the second down play. Malik Cannon had a huge tackle for loss on the third down play, bringing up 4th and about a mile. Tyler Cherry then rushed the Mount Vernon quarterback, forcing an incomplete pass. The Dawgs took over on downs with 23 seconds left in the game, giving us a final score of 20-14.
Trey Hodge completed 3 passes for 51 yards on the night. Receivers were Kylan Thomas (30 yards), Kenneth Bell (18 yards), and Dee Black (3 yards). Black was the leading rusher with 179 yards and a touchdown. Thomas rushed for 46 yards, TQ Jackson rushed for 4 yards, and Hodge ran for 9 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Defensively, Jefferson forced 5 fumbles and recovered 4 of them. Fumbles were forced by Trace Smith, Bryson Johnson, Dee Black, Malik Cannon, and Lyrik Rawls. Fumbles were recovered by Eric Gipson, Malik Cannon, Jacari Mosley, and Dylan Griffin. Rawls also had an interception. Leading tacklers were Brennan Varnell (15), Trace Smith (11), Eric Gipson (11), Henry Hill (11), and Rawls (10).
The Bulldogs are open next week and will return to their home field on October 26th to take on Atlanta. Game time is 7:30 P.M. The theme for the week will be “Pink Out” in support of breast cancer awareness.
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