By Gary Smith
During a full moon on Friday the 13th, strange things are known to happen. This was the case last week in Peabody’s 30-7 win at Jackson South Side. In a rarity, the Golden Tide offense gave up more points than the defense.
South Side’s only score of the game occurred early in the fourth quarter, when Peabody fumbled the football and the Hawks executed a 77-yard scoop-and-score touchdown.
In the first four games of the season, the Peabody defense has yielded only seven points for a 1.75 points per game average, including two shutouts. The Tide offense has allowed opposing defenses to score two scoop-and-score touchdowns on fumble returns. Trenton is averaging 38.5 points per game.
Peabody’s dominating defense limited South Side to -2 yards rushing on 15 attempts, five-of-15 passing with one interception, 55 total yards and only two first downs.
For all practical purposes, Peabody put the game out of reach early with pairs of touchdowns in each of the first two quarters to take a 28-0 advantage at halftime.
According to Peabody Head Coach Shane Jacobs, “I was proud of the way we started. The defense played really well again and didn’t give up any points. Obviously, the seven points were off an offensive turnover. The defense played well and the offense was really good in spurts.”
After failing to convert two field goals from the edge of the Red Zone on its opening possession, Peabody tallied touchdowns on its next four possessions. Aided by a three-and-out series contributed by the PHS defense, the Tide offense was presented excellent field position for a drive, which originated in the vicinity of midfield. Trenton capitalized on the opportunity, when Cooper Baugus struck from 48 yards out on a quarterback keeper. Isaiah Hicks’ extra point kick lifted the Tide to a 7-0 lead at the 8:22 mark of the first period.
Midway through the quarter, linebacker Logan Whittemore blocked a punt at the South Side 26-yard line to pave the way for Jacquez Wilkins to circumvent the left perimeter for a 10-yard touchdown and Hicks’ extra point for a 14-0 advantage.
Sandwiched around another four-snap possession by South Side, Peabody tallied touchdowns by Baugus, on a two-yard keeper and Eli Hammonds, on a diving reception of a nine-yard pass thrown by Baugus. Noah Halbrook’s double pass to Baugus for a 27-yard advancement was a highlight of the series. Hicks’ kicks sailed equidistant between the uprights to elevate the point spread to 28-0 at the halfway juncture.
In a defensively controlled second half, the two offenses were relegated to five consecutive unproductive series. Late in the third frame, Peabody appeared to have broken the offensive drought, when Drequan Vaughn scored an apparent touchdown on a three-yard burst. However, the play was nullified due to a holding penalty and, several plays later, South Side managed to score on the 77-yard scoop-and-score fumble return.
In addition to excellent field position provided by its defense, Peabody was the beneficiary of outstanding punting by Bryce Franks, who boomed three kicks for an average of 41 yards. His best effort, a 44-yard rainbow that was downed at the Hawks’ one-yard line put the visiting squad in position for defensive back Carson Vandiver to record a safety for Peabody’s final points in the physical 30-7 win.
“We got a little lethargic there in the middle of the third quarter. We put up 28 points in the first half and then came out and didn’t score any in the second half. It is humid out here and fatigue is still getting to us. We must do a better job of making sure we are in shape. Our guys played well and they played hard. They gave us everything they had. I am proud of the effort, but we could have executed better in some spots,” explained Coach Jacobs.
Statistically, Peabody amassed 246 yards rushing and 164 yards passing for 410 total yards and 18 first downs and South Side was limited to -2 yards on the ground and 57 yards through the air for 55 total yards and two renewed series. Cooper Baugus completed 10-of-17 passes for 137 yards and one touchdown and Noah Halbrook connected on his only aerial for 27 yards and South Side went 5/15/1 in the throwing game.
PHS lost its only fumble and SSHS did not drop the ball. The visiting squad was penalized on seven occasions for 60 yards and the home team was flagged six times for 60 yards.
Offensive leaders included: Cooper Baugus, with 14 QB keepers for 90 yards and two touchdowns and one reception for 27 yards; Jarel Dickson, with 15 rushes for 55 yards and two catches for three yards; Drequan Vaughn, with five totes for 44 yards; Jacquez Wilkins, with 10 carries for 43 yards and Halbrook, with three runs for 14 yards and three grabs for 72 yards; Eli Hammonds, with a trio of receptions for 43 yards and one TD and Bryce Franks, with two catches for 12 yards.
Top defenders included: Logan Whittemore, Carson Vandiver and Triston Cook each with two solo tackles and a pair of assists and Jarel Dickson, Rafe Hannah and Keandre Woolfork, with two individual tackles apiece. Whittemore blocked a punt and recovered a fumble and Cook and Vandiver (safety) contributed tackles-for-loss.
Next, Peabody (4-0) makes the long road trip to Adamsville for a region match-up on Friday. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
“We are looking forward to going to Adamsville next week (Friday). Last year, we went down there and did not play well. We are looking forward to the opportunity to go back down there, play well and go into the bye week 5-0, but more importantly, 2-0 in the region,” explained Coach Jacobs.