Jackson County couldn't dig itself out of a two-touchdown hole late and lost its final non-subregion tune-up 28-20 to Fannin County Friday.
The Panthers (1-2), who trailed 28-14 for much of the fourth quarter Friday night, begin subregion play next week against rival East Jackson. Coach Billy Kirk was plenty frustrated after Friday's loss to the Rebels — who play in the opposite subregion, Region 8-AA North — but found plenty to be proud of at the same time. Click here for pictures.
“At the end of the day, I’m proud of our kids, I’m proud of our program,” Kirk said. “Obviously in defeat, you don’t want to sit there and say anything about being proud of nothing, but our kids fought their butts off. Fannin County will win that (sub)region up in the north … We lost the game on special teams — bottom line.”
Special teams put the Panthers in a hole immediately as Fannin County returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. A miscommunication later on in the game on a fake punt with Jackson County trailing 21-14 in the third quarter eventually led to another Rebel touchdown. Kirk said the fake was never called.
“It was a miscommunication,” he said.
Still, the Panthers found themselves within striking distance late.
Down 28-14, Jackson County scored with 1:23 left in the game when Kyle Daniel hit Ben Brissy for a 15-yard touchdown pass. But the Panthers failed on an onside kick attempt and Fannin County was able take a knee.
Jackson County must regroup now for its intra-county clash next week against East Jackson. The Eagles are coming off a 35-7 win over Banks County.
Against Fannin County, Jackson County ran the ball successfully early. Following the Rebels’ opening kickoff return, the Panthers — moving primarily on the ground — got a one-yard score from Daivon Ledford to tie the game at seven with 8:56 left in the first quarter.
“We moved the ball,” Kirk said. “We knew we could move the ball a little bit there … That was a big thing for us because we just gashed, gashed, gashed. But the problem is those guys get gassed because they turn around and have to play defense.”
Jackson County, however, was stuffed on a fourth-and-one at the goal line in the second quarter and missed a chance to go up 14-7. Fannin County then responded with a 99-yard touchdown drive.
Down 14-7 at intermission, Jackson County went to its passing attack more in the second half, getting a 20-yard touchdown strike from Kyle Daniel to Xavier Harper to tie the game at 14 with 8:55 left in the third quarter.
But Fannin County responded with 25-yard run from Peyton Satterfield to go up 21-14. The Rebel defense then stopped Jackson County on its next drive, and that’s when the miscommunication happened. Instead of punting the ball as Kirk had directed, Jackson County went for, and missed on a fake punt attempt, giving Fannin County the ball at Jackson County 40. The Rebels scored two plays later.
“It is what it is,” Kirk said. “It was a miscommunication.”
The Panthers will try to have short memories now as they move on to their subregion opener next week. This will be only Jackson County’s second meeting with East Jackson, which opened in 2007.
“East Jackson is going to be very athletic,” Kirk said. “East Jackson is going to be well-coached. For us, it’s a big game for our community. It’s a big game for our town.”