Moments after Jones County’s defense had registered its second safety of the night, Norfolk Southern’s train powered down the railroad tracks just behind the visiting side of the stands on Friday in Gray, eliciting a cheer from the Jones fans.
Visiting Griffin may as well have been run over by a train itself, as the Bears were held without an offensive touchdown and never threatened to score on offense until the final minute as Jones County opened the GHSA Class 5A playoffs with a 32-8 victory.
The Bears never had starting position on the Jones County side of the field, and their only score came on a fake punt. Jones County’s defense registered a pair of safeties and had a total of 12 tackles for a loss.
Spurred on by its defensive counterparts, the Greyhounds offense flexed the big-play muscle of Teldrick Ross and Drake Bolus and both combined for three touchdowns to help Jones County advance.
The Greyhounds (10-1) will travel to Wayne County next week for the second round of the playoffs.
Five who mattered
Bolus: He made Griffin pay dearly for giving him chances to make plays outside the tackles on Friday as he rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown. His score came on an eye-popping 20-yard run on which he first hurdled one Griffin defender before breaking a tackle on the way to the end zone for a 9-0 Greyhounds lead with 1:08 left in the first quarter.
Ross: A right ankle injury forced Ross out of the game early in the third quarter. Before that, however, he gave the Bears another defensive headache to contend with. Powering through designed runs on the outside, Ross had a strong night, rushing for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns on runs of 44 and 23 yards that put the Greyhounds up 23-8 before halftime.
Jones County’s defensive front seven: Griffin never got much going with its run game, and short passes didn’t turn into big plays. The Greyhounds front seven played a major role, dominating the line of scrimmage and locking up to make tackles on short passes.
Malik Taylor: He broke wide open on a fake punt from Griffin’s own six yard line in the second quarter for a 94-yard score. It turned out to be the only Griffin touchdown of the game.
Flipping It: One main reason for Griffin never getting much offensive traction on Friday? Field position. The Bears started six of their first seven drives no better than on their own 25 yard line with three inside their 15. With the Greyhounds giving up few first downs and the Bears being also pinned back by the punting of Colby Gordon, keeping the field position game in Jones County’s favor was made easy.
Battered QBs: Plenty of big hits were laid out on Friday, and neither quarterback ended up being immune from injury. Both Ross and Griffin quarterback Avious Nelson left the game with injuries in the third quarter. The status of Ross for next week’s game is unknown at this time.
They said it
Jones County head coach Justin Rogers on the Greyhounds defense: “Our defense played well. We felt like our d-line against their o-line was a match up we could win, and it showed up. They couldn’t really pass rush us or couldn’t block us. That just helped get everything going.”
Rogers on Jones County’s field position advantage: “Our defense played lights out, our offense had great field position all night long. We kept the field flipped, they couldn’t get first downs. If you can’t get first downs, you can’t flip it.
Rogers on winning in front of the home fans: “Any time we play well in front of these fans, it’s big. We have some of best fans in the state. they travel well, they show up, they’re great people. You don’t want to disappoint them and want to give them something to be proud of.”
Jones County travels to Wayne County next week in the second round of the playoffs.