Vincent falls by 2 points in season opener

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

VINCENT – A late comeback attempt wasn’t enough for the Vincent Yellow Jackets in two-point season-opening loss to Winterboro on Thursday, Aug. 19.

The Jackets put together a strong defensive effort in a low-scoring battle with the Bulldogs, but they ultimately dropped the opener by a final of 18-16.

“It was a gutsy effort by the defense, and I was very proud of them,” head coach Lucas Weatherford said after the loss. “Offensively, we put them in a bad hole several, several times, and they kept fighting and fighting.”

The difference in the game essentially came down to turnovers, missed opportunities, three big plays given up and penalties for Vincent.

Two of those were on display during the opening drive for each team.

Vincent started with the ball, but a fumble deep in the Bulldogs’ territory by Tray Youngblood quickly gave it to Winterboro.

One play after the fumble, Winterboro struck on a 70-yard touchdown pass for a 6-0 lead with 8:51 left in the opening quarter.

Vincent, however, built off the success of a strong opening drive before the fumble and went right down the field on the second drive thanks to Jermarey Lawson.

The running back had runs of 6, 40 and 16 before capping the drive off with a 2-yard touchdown run. Following a 2-point conversion pass from Youngblood to Blake Allums, the Jackets took an 8-6 lead with 5:14 to play.

Play turned a bit sloppy for both teams after that, but the Yellow Jackets missed out on two opportunities after failing to capitalize on a fumble recovery during a punt return from Winterboro.

Once again, the Bulldogs took advantage early in the second quarter with a 50-yard sweep play around right end to regain the lead at 12-8.

Vincent went on to drive down inside the 25-yard line late in the half, but the Jackets once again came up empty handed and turned it over on downs.

Thanks to Winterboro’s two long plays, the Bulldogs took a 12-8 lead into the half.

Trailing by four, however, the game was far from over to start the second half.

The Yellow Jackets attempted to throw the ball on the first play of their second drive of the half, but it was batted down and intercepted to give the Bulldogs great field position.

Two plays later, Winterboro scored on a 30-yard touchdown run to take an 18-8 lead with 4:51 left in the third.

That led to another missed opportunity for the Yellow Jackets.

They put together a strong 14-play drive in response to the score and drove the ball all the way to the Winterboro 3-yard line. On fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line, however, the Jackets dropped a touchdown pass to turn it over on downs.

“If we finish those drive and take away those turnovers, this is a completely different game right now,” Weatherford said.

That left Vincent down by 10 in the fourth quarter with time running out.

The Yellow Jackets’ defense, however, continued to answer the bell. They didn’t give up a point the rest of the way, and were three plays shy of a completely different outcome.

That allowed the offense to at least make it interesting late.

A play after Allums, the team’s starting quarterback, went down with an injury, Youngblood, who had been battling cramps all night, stepped into the position and hit Zac Carlilse for a 65-yard bomb.

One play later, Youngblood scrambled and took off for a 12-yard touchdown run. Then, he completed a 2-point conversion pass to make it an 18-16 game with 1:56 to play.

“I really think in year’s past, right there when it’s 18-8, and they’re about to go down and score to ice the game, we may give up,” Weatherford said. “We didn’t quit, they fumbled and we got the ball back right there. It about put us in a position to win the game. I told them I’m proud of that. That’s what we have to keep doing.”

The ensuing onside kick was narrowly recovered by the Jackets, but the Bulldogs ultimately fell on top of it and went on to run out the clock shortly after.

Weatherford, however, was proud of the gutsy finish by his team, including Youngblood for not giving up.

“That was a gutsy effort from Tray Youngblood. He was battling cramps all night and fought to almost step up and give us a win at the end,” Weatherford said.

The head coach also knows it was just one game, and the Yellow Jackets can use this to build a better future this season.

“That game right there isn’t going to define our season. That’s a game we didn’t play our best, but we’re still 0-0 in the region and we still have a chance to do some things,” he said. “It’s going to be about how we bounce back from this week to next week. Can we continue that? When the season gets further along, are we going to be ready for it to be over, or are we going to keep fighting to get better? That’s the key right now.”

Lawson finished the game with 99 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, while Carlisle totaled 82 yards on three receptions. In the passing game, Allums was 8-of-21 for 59 yards, while Youngblood was 2-of-2 for 73 yards with a rushing touchdown and two passing 2-point conversions.

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.