It’s not surprising that the Robert E. Lee-Jeff Davis game at Cramton Bowl on Thursday night came down to the last play.
For the last six years, the game has featured two struggling programs that have played each other evenly for 48 minutes.
Jeff Davis (2-7) held on for a 27-22 victory in front of 900 fans, but it wasn’t decided until the final play of the game as Anthony Hooks took a snap at the Jeff Davis 7 and threw a fade route for Marcus Jones, who cut the route short. The ball fell harmlessly to the turf as the Volunteers celebrated their second win in three weeks and only their second victory over the Generals in the last six years.
“It feels great to come back in and fight until the end and win,” Jeff Davis senior linebacker Ricardo Stokes said. “I was a little nervous, but we just had to keep fighting.”
For the Generals (1-7), it was another frustrating setback as they dropped their sixth game in a row. A missed field-goal attempt and two missed extra points were the difference in the game, along with stops by the Jeff Davis defense at the end of each half.
“Red-zone, field-goal opportunities, we just didn’t need to do what we needed to do,” Lee coach Tyrone Rogers said. “Give them credit. Whenever you’re not able to score, apparently the other team did something right. It’s tough any time you lose a city game.”
The Generals’ last drive put the game on the shoulders of quarterback Anthony Hooks, who passed or ran for all but seven of the 66 yards. Hooks finished with 57 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries and completed 18 of 29 passes for 288 yards and another touchdown.
Jeff Davis, meanwhile, got much of their production from Ger’Kerry Jackson, who opened the scoring with a 37-yard touchdown run and finished with 141 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. He also had 48 yards and another touchdown on six receptions from Kendarius Manora.
“I was at Lanier last year, and they snuck one in on us,” Jackson said. “I set myself a goal this game that I was going to help my team win this game. We knew they would overplay the run, so I’d run to the outside, stick my foot in the ground and get up the field.”
Each time the Generals appeared to get the upper hand, the Vols would counter with running plays or screen passes that took advantage of the aggressive defense.
“Based on our film study, we knew in some formations they would play man coverage,” Jeff Davis coach Lee Carter said. “So when we went one receiver backside, that meant the linebacker had our running back and the matchup was in our favor.”
In addition to the stop at the end of the game, the Vols’ defense also maintained a 14-3 halftime lead by turning away three plays inside the Jeff Davis 10 at the end of the first half.
“To me, that may have been the play of the game,” Carter said. “And that last stop. Our defense has been the heart and soul of our team all year. Offensively, we’ve put them in bad situations. Tonight was a testament to how tough those guys really are. Three of our starting DBs were out this game, so what you saw tonight was the future of where this program is headed.”
“It was a big deal,” Stokes added. “At practice, we work hard, pushing, pushing. KTO. That’s what it means — keep them out of the end zone.”
The Jeff Davis defense, along with 13 penalties assessed against the Generals, proved to be the difference in another exciting game between The rivals, which are now tied 24-24-1 in the series.
“I came into the game 30,” Carter said. “I’m probably 45 now. This game put some years on me.”