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KERSHAW – Buford rallied to defeat county rival Andrew Jackson, 30-24 in overtime on AJ homecoming at Volunteer Stadium on Friday night.
The Yellow Jackets overcame a 24-13 deficit in the fourth quarter to force the overtime.
“Our guys gave super effort tonight,” Buford coach Mike Wells said. “We put ourselves in a hole with too many mistakes in the first half.
“We turned the ball over and gave a good AJ team a short field,” said Wells.”Give AJ credit, their skill people made big plays for them, and we knew coming in that they were capable of doing just that.”
AJ appeared to be in control midway the final period as BHS faced a third and 40 from the Jackets 20 after three consecutive penalties against BHS.
A facemask penalty coupled with a personal foul penalty gave the Jackets new life.
Five plays later, Mikeem McKinney capped the 12-play scoring drive with a run from the five-yard line. McKinney also rushed for the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 24-21, with 4:46 left.
The Buford defense, inspired by the turn of momentum, forced a three-and-out and the Yellow Jackets downed the Tyler Denkins’ punt at the BHS 32.
The Jackets marched to the AJ five-yard line, aided by a 38-yard screen pass from C.J. Blackmon to Jay Chambers.
With 30 seconds left in regulation, Tyler Jenkins drilled the game-tying 22-yard field goal.
AJ appeared to be in business on its next possession when freshman QB Kolby Whitley hooked up with Quadarius Fair for an apparent 57-yard reception at the BHS eight yard line-only to have it called back for holding.
AJ, in overtime, lined up at the 10 and Javarius Clyburn sliced his way to the one-yard line. Whitley was then tackled for a four-yard loss. After an incomplete pass, Brett Lucas’ 22 yard field goal try was partially blocked and sailed wide.
Buford’s Scott Catledge powered the Jackets with three consecutive rushes. Catledge, who rushed for 157 yards on 27 carries, scored the game-winning touchdown from two yards out.
“It was huge for us to make that stand in the overtime,” said Wells. “Number 53 was looking down on us tonight.”
Scott Muennich, a Buford freshman, lost his life a week ago in a tragic accident near Buford High School.
Andrew Jackson led 17-13 at the half after falling behind 13-0 in the first quarter.
“Give Buford credit, they played like they wanted it more than we did,” said AJ coach David Moore said. “We let them out of a deep hole in the fourth quarter when we had them fourth and 40.
“We made some big plays, but in the end, Buford made the plays when it counted,” said Moore.
Buford opened the scoring with a five-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Blackmon executed a perfect screen pass to tight end Marcus Brown for a 53-yard touchdown. With Jenkins’ extra point, BHS led 7-0.
At the end of the first period, Buford linebacker Josh Mullens recovered a fumble at the AJ 42. Seven plays later, Catledge bulled into the end zone from the one-yard line. The extra point failed and Buford led, 13-0.
AJ senior speedster Bobby Delly returned the kickoff 91 yards for an electrifying touchdown return. Brett Lucas added the PAT and the Vols cut the lead to 13-7.
Midway in the second period, AJ cornerback Javaris Clyburn recovered the first of his two fumbles on the night. Lucas converted the turnover into points with a 42-yard field goal to pull the Vols within three, 13-10.
The AJ defense stepped up and forced a short BHS punt after a bad snap. Chris White picked up the punt and raced to the BHS 16. Three plays later, Whitley cooly found Fair across the middle for a touchdown. The Lucas extra point was good and the Vols led at the half 17-13.
Whitley threw his fourth touchdown in two games when he found Quincy Grier behind the Yellow Jackets coverage from 35 yards out. Lucas’ extra point at the 5:20 mark in the third gave AJ a 24-13.
Buford was down, but the Jackets fought back to force OT and eventually won the game.
Catledge paced Buford’s offense with 157 yards on 27 carries. He scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner. Timmy Blackmon gained 32 yards on five rushes, while Jay Chambers added 29 yards on five attempts. Donnie Duncan picked up 21 yards on two carries and Mikeem McKinney added 20 yards on eight tries. BHS quarterback C.J. Blackmon netted 10 yards on eight attempts.
Blackmon threw for 148 yards on 7-9 passing, with one interception.
Brown led the Jackets in receiving with two receptions for 60 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown catch.
Jay Chambers had one clutch catch for 38 yards. Autry Blackmon had three catches for 33 yards. McKinney caught two passes for 17 yards.
Tyler Jenkins made a 22-yard field goal and three extra points.
Kolby Whitley completed eight of 12 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns to lead the AJ offense. Cody Ussery completed one pass for 16 yards.
Delly caught four passes for 41 yards. Quincy Grier had a 35-yard touchdown catch, while Quadarius Fair added a 21-yard TD reception. Gavin Clyburn caught one pass for 21 yards and Wade Eubanks had a 16-yard reception. Javaris Clyburn had one catch for seven yards.
Chris White picked up 19 yards on four carries. Delly gained 10 yards on four rushes and Jonathan Brevard had nine yards on four attempts. Gavin Clyburn rushed once for three yards.
Leah Kennington was crowned the 2011 AJ homecoming queen.
AJ, 3-4, 0-2, travels to Cheraw on Friday. Cheraw, 4-3, 2-0, defeated No. 5 Indian Land, 28-20 on Friday night.