Jones rubs Cavaliers the wrong way, clinches Jackets’ win

PICK CITY: Byrd’s Christian Jones picks off a pass at the goal line to keep the Yellow Jackets undefeated. (Photo by KEVIN PICKENS)


With a little more than a minute to play and his team 15 yards away from the Byrd end zone, trailing in a 14-7 game, Calvary head coach Rodney Guin had already decided that he was going for the two-point conversion if his team could get across the goal line.

Byrd’s Christian Jones decided he wasn’t going to let Guin have that chance.

“All week we have been working on their rub route,” Jones said. “So we knew something was coming. We had two free safeties over the top, so I was looking at the quarterback the whole time and reading his eyes. I just broke on the ball and came down with it. I knew I had to make that play.”

It was an interception by the senior free safety – punctuated by a 70-yard return – that sealed the win for the Yellow Jackets in a game that was nothing like what was expected.

In the when’s-the-last-time-that happened department, the Yellow Jackets actually had more yards passing (139) than running (99). Byrd’s longest rush was 14 yards; Calvary had three players with runs longer than that.

Byrd had an 18-play drive that resulted in zero points; Calvary had fumbled snaps on three out of four plays that resulted in 40 lost yards. Not so coincidentally, Byrd used that short field to go on top, but it took a 34-yard pass from Lake Lambert to Jackson Dufrene on third-and-17 to do it with 3:47 to go before the half.

But if you thought that was going to get the Byrd offense going, you must not have been paying attention to the Calvary defense. Not counting the final run-out-the-clock series, Byrd had six possessions of four plays or less.

“They were moving their defensive line around a little bit and confusing us,” Byrd coach Stacy Ballew said. “Their safeties were coming hard and they were so aggressive, so that’s why we had some success throwing the ball. But we missed some blocks, too.”

Calvary tied the score with 5:55 left in the third quarter on a 12-play, 91-yard drive, highlighted by a 40-yard post pattern from Bryce Carpenter to Chris Jackson. Carpenter scored on a 3-yard run to draw it even at 7.

The Cavaliers looked to be in a position to take the lead on the next possession, but Guin took his field goal team off the field and went for it on fourth-and-five from the Byrd 12. “I just didn’t think a field goal was going to stand up in a game like this,” he said.

The fourth-down run came up two yards short, but it did pin the Jackets back at their own 9. But that’s when they went on a 12-play drive — and had only one third down along the way —that ended on a 1-yard touchdown run by Dixon Poirier with 8:58 to play.

On the final Calvary possession, Carpenter completed a 36-yard pass to Aubrey Hermes on another post pattern that brought the ball to the Byrd 20. A pass interference on the next play moved it even closer.

A sack by Byrd junior Ashton Fullwood resulted in a five-yard loss that set up the heroics by Jones.

“We just got to believe in what we are doing,” Guin said. “We’ve got a good football team and we had a chance last week to win too (against Captain Shreve). But once again, you can’t beat these (Class) 5A teams turning the ball over and having penalties.”

District 1-5A play opens for the Yellow Jackets next week in a big way as they take on Captain Shreve.

“Let’s just say we have to get a little more down to business,” Ballew said.

The Cavaliers will travel to Monroe to take on Wossman.

“We are 1-2, but I guarantee you there are a bunch of 3-0 teams that don’t want to play us,” Guin said.

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Byrd 14, Calvary 7

Score by quarters

Calvary | 0 | 0 | 7 | 0 | – 7
Byrd | 0 | 7 | 0 | 7 | – 14

Scoring summary

Byrd – Jackson Dufrene 41 pass from Lake Lambert (Abram Murray kick)
CBA – Bryce Carpenter 3 run (Garrett Little kick)
Byrd – Dixon Poirier 1 run (Murray kick)

Individual leaders

Rushing – CBA (34-151), James Simon 16-107, Julius Moss 7-57, Carpenter 7-12, Kolby Thomas 1-minus-16. Byrd (42-99), Devon Strickland 15-43, Tyler Nichols 6-35, D. Poirier 7-15, Lambert 10-6.
Passing – CBA (8-25-1-147), Carpenter 7-23-1-133, Abram Wardell 1-2-0-14. Byrd, Lambert 7-9-0-139.
Receiving – CBA, Aubrey Hermes 3-53, M. Simon 2-23, Chris Jackson 1-40, J. Simon 1-17. Byrd, Dufrene 3-61, D. Strickland 2-26, Connor Ridenour 1-38, D. Poirier 1-14.