Jeff Davis answered long Smiths Station drives with explosive plays throughout the night, but with the game on the line, there was nothing left in the tank.
The Vols fell to Smiths Station 29-26 at Cramton Bowl on Thursday. Their final drive stalled at the 49-yard line with less than five minutes to go. The Jeff Davis defense couldn’t get a stop on the final drive, and the Panthers were able to end the game in victory formation.
“(The team) played hard, played with a lot of passion, played with a lot of energy. The name of the game is to score points and get stops. We had a couple issues defensively, and I told them that I take full responsibility for that as a coach and as a leader of the program,” Jeff Davis coach Lee Carter said. “I have to make sure that we’re sound in all phases of the game. I felt bad because I let those guys down. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but if I start pointing the finger at anyone, I have to point at myself first.”
It’s been a fast fall for the Vols (5-3, 2-3 Class 7A, Region 2), who started the season 4-0 for the first time since 1994. After the strong start, Jeff Davis has lost three out of its last four games and is likely out of playoff contention.
“To be honest, I thought we’d be playing for the region championship. Like my principal (Bobby Abrams) says, ‘It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We hit a rough patch, but we’ve got to just keep our heads up,” Carter said. “As long as there’s hope, just keep fighting. As long as there’s a game to be played, whether if it’s for playoff implications or not, go out there and give it your all. That’s playing with pride.”
Jeff Davis quarterback Zarron Haney threw for 187 yards with two touchdowns and one interception on 7-for-11 passing. Running back Travez Bozeman ran six times for 147 yards and two scores.
Quarterback Dalton Sinquefield led Smiths Station by passing 22-for-32 for 284 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He also had nine carries for 11 yards and a touchdown. K.J. Johnson ran 27 times for 160 yards.
<FZ,1,0,10>Smiths Station opened the game on a 19-play drive, plus eight penalties, and was held off the scoreboard. Bozeman gave the Vols the lead two plays later with a 67-yard touchdown run.
Sinquefield threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to go ahead 10-7, and Haney threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Austin Ballard on the next play to lead 13-7 at the half.
Bozeman ran for his second touchdown two plays into the second half, a 58-yard scamper for a 19-10 lead. Smiths Station capped off an 11-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Sinquefield to make it a two-point margin.
Sinquefield’s third TD pass, an 18-yarder early in the fourth quarter, put Smiths Station up 23-19. But two plays later, Jeff Davis went back on top 26-23 with an 86-yard touchdown pass from Haney to Cory Smith.
Sinquefield ran for a 5-yard score on third-and-goal midway through the fourth quarter to put Smiths Station up for good.
Coming off of a short week when they played Saturday and then Thursday, the Vols ran just 32 plays on offense compared to the Panthers’ 88.
Jeff Davis travels to region leader Central-Phenix City for its final region game next Friday.
“We have nothing to lose. We’ll go out there and give it our all, that’s what we’re going to do,” Carter said. “Got to score points, and got to get stops. We’ve got to do better.”