When Lee Carter left G.W. Carver to take the head coaching position at Jeff Davis, he knew he’d have his work cut out for him. Taking over for a winless team had it’s expected difficulties.
He said he was ‘spoiled’ at Carver, frequently scoring more than 40 points. But all the frustrations that came with the Vols’ 0-6 start washed away with the Gatorade shower he received after Jeff Davis defeated Sidney Lanier 36-14 at Cramton Bowl on Thursday night.
“It feels great,” Carter said. “Losing six straight, it’s so demoralizing. I’ve been on suicide watch probably for the last six weeks and to finally win, it’s awesome.”
The Vols (1-6, 1-4 Class 6A, Region 3) scored with 40 seconds left in the first hal and used an 86-yard kick return by Cedric Barnes to break the game open and run away with it.
Lanier’s Deandre Bibb hit Deshaun Flowers for a 10-yard touchdown with 9:17 left to cut JD’s lead to 15-14. But Barnes’ kick return stole the momentum back, and Jeff Davis finished the game with 21 unanswered points to end its 17-game losing streak.
“Ronald Adams, our special teams coordinator, he does and awesome job,” Carter said. “Just having special teams hurt us so many weeks and being a weakness for us, it’s so great to see all of his hard work pay off, and we were able to use that as a weapon.”
A little offensive strategy aided the Vols as well. Late in the second quarter, before the last score to end the half, Carter sent in David Whitlow at quarterback for a struggling Adarius Wesley. Whitlow connected on a 25-yard pass to get the Vols in scoring territory, and finished 6-for-7 for 70 yards and a touchdown. He also ran seven times for 29 yards and a score.
“I was a little nervous, but it wore off in the midst of the game,” Whitlow said. “Once we got going, we kept going, like a bowling ball. We picked the momentum up, picked the intensity up, and we didn’t stop. It paid off, and we got the victory.
As many smiles as there were on the Jeff Davis sideline, a wave of disappointed looks fell over the Poets’ bench. Lanier (0-7, 0-5) seemed to have the momentum in the first half before all-purpose threat Tristian Buyck suffered a toe injury in the second quarter.
Buyck was noticeably hampered by the injury, but still continued to play. He had trouble getting anything going in the second half. Buyck finished 3-for-10 passing for 60 yards and two interceptions. He also had 18 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown. Bibb came in relief of Buyck, going 3-for-14 for 24 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran seven times for nine yards.
“I thought the kids came out and fought hard,” Lanier coach C.J. Harris said. “They did everything we asked. A couple unfortunate breaks here and there, over 100 worth of penalties, it hurts. We just have to get back to the drawing board and continue to work.”