MUSING WITH CECIL BUFFINGTON

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                   MUSING WITH CECIL BUFFINGTON

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                     Not Criticizing . . . Just Saying!

Dragons pull out 28 – 16 win over Oconee County

It was not a pretty game. On a cold, windy night at Jefferson Memorial stadium, I sat and watched the Dragons pull out a hard-fought 28 - 16 win over a pesky and determined Oconee County team that had entered the game with a record of 7 wins and a lone loss to Hart County.

It was expected this game would give a slight strength comparison between Hart County and Jefferson just before their region championship battle next week at Herndon Stadium in Hartwell. It didn't give any indication of what might be because the Dragons played the ugliest game they have played since the Washington-Wilkes debacle in the middle of the 2013 season.

Jefferson fans have to face the facts ... All of us  have become spoiled by the run-a-way scores our home team has inflicted upon their opponents during this magical season. I fully expected the Dragons to put up another 50 points on the board while holding Oconee County to maybe a touchdown or two at the most.

When the Jefferson team jumped out to a quick 14 - 0 lead, it looked like peaches and cream for the locals. It turned out to be anything but a cakewalk.

Sammie Williams had electrified the shivering crowd with a beautiful 53-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game. After taking over the ball for their next possession at the 3-yard line with about 5 minutes left in the first quarter,  Evan Sherriffs threw to Dalton Hill, who was running step-to-step with his defender, for a 97-yard touchdown that put the 14 quick points on the scoreboard.

 

As I watched Hill take in the on-the-money throw from the endzone at around the midfield stripe and carry it to pay-dirt, it brought back memories of another Friday night Halloween game back in 1959. After holding the Madison County Red Raiders at about the 6-inch line on fourth down, Jefferson two-time all-state running back Jeff Davis, took the first down snap for the Dragons and ran directly up the middle of the field for a 99-yard touchdown. As Davis passed the midfield stripe a firecracker was thrown onto the field that brought up an even louder roar from the stands than the remarkable touchdown run. The Dragons won that Halloween night by a 26 – 0 score.

My thoughts, as I came back to the present, were that there were not going to be any firecrackers thrown at Memorial Stadium this day and time with Principal, Dr. Kevin Smith,  patrolling the grounds like a shepard protecting his flock.

The rest of the half saw runs-for-losses, dropped passes,  passes thrown short, overthrown passes and just general disaray in the Dragons offense. A fumble after a catch by  the usually reliable, sure-handed Hill gave the opponent the ball inside the 30-yard line. From there they completed a short drive to a field goal for their first points of the game.

Jefferson led 14 – 3 at the half.  Out of my jacket came my gloves and sock cap.  It was cold in the old ball park on this night.

The half-time band presentations were most enjoyable as both bands were dressed in colorful Halloween costumes that really brought out the spirit of the moment. One individual band member had a silver bucket over his head as he pounded on the drums, while black cats, skeletons and other various costumes were on display during the on-field band presentations. Many fans and their children in the stands were also costumed. It was somewhat of an amusing sight to behold.

When the second half started Jefferson appeared to have righted the ship somewhat as they added a short touchdown run from Smith and another long bomb from Sherriffs  to a streaking hill that covered 72-yards late in the third quarter. ( Sherriffs threw for 216 yards with 207 yards going to Hill ).  At the end of the third quarter the Dragons had put up what all of us Dragon fans knew was an insurmountable 28 - 3 advantage.

For the rest of the game the Dragon offense again became a comedy of errors with fumbles, penalties, and an inabiliy to finish a couple of good drives. The defense chipped in with some poor run and pass defense, and dropped a couple of easy interceptions.  There was also a questionable call or two from the men in stripped shirts that aided the Oconee County cause. All of this added up to the visitors tacking on two fourth quarter scores to make the game seem closer than it actually was.

After a week off the game makes you wonder if some of the Dragons ( 9 - 0 ) recent momentum had been derailed by the off week. Could the Dragons have been looking ahead to the big battle with Hart County ( 9 - 0 ) next weeK for the region title? Did we take Oconee lightly after their pounding by Hart County the previous week?

We'll find out if we're back to what I consider our normal performance level over in Hartwell next week. Herndon Stadium has around 4,500 to 5,000 seats. With expected temporary stands being brought in it may well exceed 8-9,000 fans crammed into the stadium next week. I guess my closing advice to all our Dragon fans is get there early if you want a seat. It should be a really good game.  Let me change that . . . It should be a really good war.

 Above ~ Sammie Williams runs hard against Oconee County in 28-16 Dragon win.

Below ~ Tradd Porter pulls in important interception against Oconee County in 28 - 16 Dragon win.