"We came out and did what we had to do," JCCHS linebacker Kelly Moates said. "We played hard for the first time in a couple weeks. We've got to defend at home."
The Panthers are now 1-2 in subregion play and 3-0 at home.
That unbeaten record at Panther Stadium will be severely tested next week when Jackson County hosts unbeaten and subregion-leading North Oconee (5-0, 2-0). The Titans are coming off a 35-22 victory over Jefferson.
Coach Billy Kirk was very pleased with the defensive effort but expressed much concerned over the Panthers' lack of offensive production against Oglethorpe County.
"I like what we're doing offensively; it gives us chances in different places here and there, but when you're going three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out and putting it on the dad gum defense (it's frustrating)."
Oglethorpe County only seriously threatened to score once Friday, driving from its own three to the Panther five on its second offensive possession. Jackson County’s defense made a huge stand, however, forcing a turnover on downs.
"It was huge," Moates said. "We did a little bend-but-don't break. I'm not a big fan of that, but we made it happen ... We stood up when we had to."
Kirk noted the importance of that fourth-down stand.
"That was a huge stop down there," he said. "That was probably the difference in the ball game ... They're (Oglethorpe) 0-5, but they're a very physical team and very well-coached. Larry (Milligan) does a good job over there with those guys. The bottom line is our defense bowed their neck a little bit."
And now Jackson County is back in the win column. The Panthers' victory Friday stopped a three-game losing streak.
"It's huge for confidence," Moates said. "We needed this big time. (We're) 3-3, back to .500, 3-0 at home, it's a big deal."
Jackson County managed its lone touchdown in the second quarter when running back Austin McDonald broke loose for a 20-yard score.
The touchdown was set up after a bad snap on an Oglethorpe County punt gave the Panthers the ball at the Patriot 20. McDonald found the end zone two plays later.
The Panthers sealed the win in the fourth quarter when Garrett Holt picked off a pass with 38 seconds on Oglethorpe County’s final drive.
Jackson County again played two quarterbacks as it continues to search for offensive consistency. Tony Holton, who led a touchdown drive against Elbert County last week, started, but Jalen Banks entered the game late in the third quarter.
As for special teams, Panther punter Garret Daglis had a big night with several long punts, including a 62-yarder.
"Garret Daglis was phenomenal tonight punting the football," Kirk said. "He flipped the field for us."