Jackets beat Ben L. Smith, run to 2-0 mark
Lee County steadily built up a 27-0 lead Friday night, then hit a little adversity, but just a little. After a few shaky minutes, the Jackets regrouped and had cushion to spare for a 34-14 victory at Ben L. Smith and a 2-0 mark after two road trips to start the football season.
The Yellow Jacket backfield of running back Jerry Pullum and quarterback Duane Bland led the way as the Jackets had three long scoring drives in taking a 27-0 lead by late in the third quarter. Pullum finished with 18 carries for 117 yards and three touchdowns. Bland, along with going 8-for-13 passing for 74 yards, rushed 17 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
Pullum and Bland, by eating up big chunks of clock along with yardage, helped the Jacket defense keep the Ben L. Smith offense quiet most of the night.
On the opening possession, the Jackets were bailed out by a roughing the punter penalty. Instead of a three-and-out on the first series, the Jackets marched 63 yards in 13 plays and 6:05. The drive was mostly on the ground and Pullum rushed six times for 22 yards including a 2-yard dive into the end zone. Ian Frye’s kick made it 7-0 Jackets.
A bad shotgun snap, followed on second down by Thomas Ferguson getting the first of what became six Yellow Jacket sacks on Golden Eagle quarterback Dontrae Hagwood, led to Lee County getting the ball back near midfield. Lee County didn’t score, but kept the field position in its favor and a Golden Eagle fumble, on a botched snap with defensive tackle Mike Hicks jumping on the ball, set up the Jackets at the Golden Eagle 16.
Pullum took a 10-yard carry for his second touchdown making it 13-0 Jackets with 1:09 left in the first period.
Lee County moved the ball 62 yards in seven plays, capped by Bland going for a 2-yard sneak for a touchdown, and Lee County led 20-0 at halftime.
The Jacket defense forced a three-and-out to open the second half and the Jacket offense went to work again. Mixing pass with the run more, Bland went 3-for-4 passing along an 88-yard drive, then kept the ball on a shotgun option play for a 2-yard touchdown run. The Jackets led 27-0 with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
Then the Golden Eagles got their offense on track for the first time, largely in the form of 6-foot-6 receiver Tre Lennon. Lennon caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Hagwood to get the Golden Eagles on the board with 0:15 left in the third.
see jackets/page b4
On the next Smith possession, facing 4th-and-13, Hagwood lobbed a long ball which Lennon came down with along the right sideline for a 30-yard gain to the Lee County 3. Hagwood scored on a run from there and with 6:11 still to play, the home side trailed 27-14.
The momentum kept shifting in a hurry. On the first Jacket play of the ensuing possession, Bland fumbled on a run up the middle and Ben L. Smith recovered.
From the Jacket 33, Hagwood went deep for Lennon again. The Jackets, or at least cornerback Patrick Bethea, were ready this time. Bethea stepped in front of Lennon and intercepted the pass.
The Golden Eagles got the ball back a few minutes later, but that possession stalled on downs. Pullum raced 31 yards for a touchdown with 2:11 remaining to put Lee County up 34-14.
Lee County held a 19-9 advantage in first downs. The Jacket defense held Ben L. Smith to 85 passing yards and 37 rushing yards. Ferguson and John Nguyen had two sacks apiece.
Lee County (2-0) gets to see its home field this coming Friday and a familiar opponent, although no longer a Tri-Nine foe. The Yellow Jackets will host Athens Drive at 7:30 p.m. Friday.