Jeff Davis has been waiting on this one for a long time.
With its 51-9 victory at Cramton Bowl on Thursday, Jeff Davis beat rival G.W. Carver for the first time since 2004.
Carver won the 2005 game by forfeit.
An up and down year ended on a high note for the Vols (6-4), who finished with a winning record for the first time since 2011.
“This was for everybody that lost to them,” Jeff Davis senior offensive lineman Paul Coleman said. “The seniors, we wanted to set a goal for ourselves that we were going to be the ones that beat them.”
This Vols senior class has come a long way. It was just back in 2012 — when they were freshmen — that they lost to Carver 70-0 on their way to an 0-10 year. Those same players have helped turn the program around under coach Lee Carter, winning 11 games in the past two seasons.
“It’s real big for our program to finally finish a season out with a winning record. These seniors are a special class, they’re the best class I’ve ever had. I’m just so proud of these guys. I’m proud of the effort. An up and down season, but our guys never gave up,” Carter said.
Jeff Davis jumped out to a 30-0 lead thanks to four forced turnovers. Travez Bozeman’s 95-yard interception return for a touchdown made it 23-0 early in the second quarter.
Three interceptions from junior defensive back Zyon Gilbert sparked a JD defense that had been lagging in recent weeks.
“We haven’t beaten this team in forever, and we just wanted the seniors to go out with a bang,” Gilbert said. “This is their last time playing, so we basically did it for the seniors tonight.”
While the senior class helped turn the program around, it’s the junior class that could take the Vols to the next level. Quarterback Zarron Haney, Bozeman, Gilbert and defensive end Alec Jackson — who frequently disrupted the Carver backfield — are just a few of the key players that return.
Haney completed 12-of-15 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown, and ran seven times for 40 yards and two scores. In addition to his interception return, Bozeman also ran 11 times for 111 yards and a touchdown, and caught a 15-yard touchdown.
Lawrence Wallace started the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown run for JD. Bozeman’s interception return and two rushing touchdowns from Haney gave JD a 30-3 lead at halftime. Dequavious Thornton scored on a 1-yard run with less than 2 minutes left to push JD’s lead to 51-9.
“This team right here is a state championship team in the future. All those guys are juniors, they’ll be back next year. So expect big things from JD.”
It was Carver’s worst loss since 2003, a 42-0 defeat to Opalika.
The loss caps a disappointing season for Carver where nothing seemed to go right. Injuries plagued the Wolverines from the start of the season, and resulted in a 3-7 year, by far the worst in coach Billy Gresham’s five seasons as head coach.
The desperate Carver team turned to five-star linebacker Lyndell “Mack” Wilson for an offensive spark after three first-quarter turnovers. Wilson’s 26-yard touchdown run was Carver’s only touchdown.
“Football is a tool, and we tell them that all the time. Especially these seniors, they really had a good four-year career. Just sticking it out and fighting to the end there. Their first three years they had a lot of success, and their last season, you just hate it for them. But it’s a part of life,” Gresham said. “That was my message to them. You can have as much success as you want, and in the real world you might hit rock bottom, but now you’ve just got to fight back. That was our message, use this as a tool.”