First-year Smiths Station coach Adam Fossett had as many questions about his team as reporters following a 32-14 loss to Jeff Davis at home Friday night.
Fossett’s team gave up 29 unanswered points in the second half to fall to 1-2 on the season.
Jeff Davis rallied from 14-3 down to take its first lead with 5:40 left in the game.
Smiths Station’s downward spiral started with a 93-yard kick return for a touchdown from running back Travez Bozeman.
“It felt like someone popped a balloon to me,” Fossett said. “If I could’ve put my finger on it I would have stopped it.”
Smiths Station jumped out to a lead on its second drive of the game when Jay Roberts hit Will Clanton for a 15-yard touchdown.
The Panthers had to punt on the drive, but a roughing the kicker call on Jeff Davis extended the possession. Roberts completed three passes on the drive for first downs.
Smiths Stations offense sputtered the rest of the half.
Roberts managed to get the Panthers deep into Jeff Davis’ territory with a 56-yard throw to Airen Brooks, but the team failed to convert a short yardage situation at the 30-yard line.
It didn’t help that Roberts was under pressure all night long.
“They threw a lot of stunts at us, we practiced it all week,” Fossett said. “Defensively up front they are pretty dang good. They are the best we have seen so far.”
The offense’s continued lack of success in the second half put a lot of pressure on a defense that played kept Jeff Davis off the scoreboard for two and a half quarters and forced the Yellowjackets to settle for a field goal on their first trip inside the 10-yard line.
“It just comes down to number of snaps,” Fossett said. “They (the defense) were on the field for a lot of snaps.”
Fossett said his team’s success this season will come down to if the offense can improve.
“The defense are a few steps ahead of where we are offensively, we are kind of leaning on them a little bit, but we have to go ahead and get better offensively for sure,” Fossett said.
Key play: Bozeman’s kick return was the beginning of the end for Smiths Station. The monster return came on the heels of Smiths Station best series with Treyvon Jones setting up a quick scoring drive with a 60-yard kick return.
“I feel it killed their momentum,” Bozeman said.
Travez Bozeman, Jeff Davis, running back — Bozeman didn’t do much on the ground, but he scored touchdowns three different ways and the two-way starter almost singlehandedly won the game for his team.
Justin Brown, Smiths Station, defensive lineman — Smiths Station’s defense didn’t play that poorly in the loss with two of Jeff Davis’ touchdowns coming when the unit wasn’t even on the field. Brown was at the center of that effort putting pressure on opposing quarterback Zarron Haney and finishing the game with three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Jay Roberts, Smiths Station, quarterback — Roberts finals numbers weren’t outstanding, but the senior was under pressure all night long and showed some toughness staying in the pocket. While he completed less than 50 percent of his passes, he had his team in position to win the game late in the fourth quarter.
Smiths Station — Jay Roberts, quarterback, 10-22 passing, 154 yards, one touchdown, one interception; Will Clanton, wide receiver 3 catches, 30 yards; Airen Brooks, wide receiver, four catches, 105 yards
Jeff Davis — Travez Bozeman, running back, 13 rushes, 21 yards, three catches 29 yards, three total TDs
Coach quote: “Our kids want to be successful. They work hard. They do the things they are supposed to do. They put more pressure on themselves than anybody else,” Fossett on his team’s effort.
Player quote: “We were practicing on that kick return lately. I just saw a big hole and had to hit it. I seen it open the whole game, but couldn’t get there. I felt like someone touched me on my leg at like the 20-yard line, so I had to speed it up,” Bozeman on his first touchdown.
Friday at Panthers Stadium
SS – Will Clanton 15 pass from Jay Roberts (Bradley Harris kick), 2:36
JD – Juan Ocana 25 field goal, 4:38
SS – Joe Lewis 4 run (Harris kick), 1:34
JD – Travez Bozeman 92 kick return (two-point conversion), 1:12
JD – Bozeman 21 pass from Zarron Haney (Ocana kick), 5:40
JD – Lexie Shaw 13 run (Ocana kick), 1:21
JD – Bozeman 44 interception (Ocana kick), 41.1