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Late Touchdowns Lift the Yellow Jackets to Victory

09/05/2016, 9:15am EDT
By Greg Oshust - Marietta Daily Journal

Yellow Jackets Win the California Dreaming Bowl

Late touchdowns lift Yellow Jackets to victory

Greg Oshust - Sep 3, 2016


MARIETTA — Sprayberry rallied with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to come from behind and defeat Kennesaw Mountain 23-15 on Friday in a battle of non-region rivals at Jim Frazier Stadium.

Trey Sermon’s 47-yard touchdown run proved to be the game-winner for Sprayberry (2-0), which also got a score later in the final period on a 2-yard quarterback keeper by London Roberson.

“It’s a little cross-town rivalry between us and Kennesaw Mountain,” Sprayberry coach Billy Shackelford said. “We’ve established a tradition and it’s always a good game — back and forth. Hats off to (Kennesaw Mountain) coach (Andy) Scott and his kids. They fought hard and they did a great job.”

Sermon played a big role in all three phases of the game, with the Oklahoma commitment rushing for 101 yards on 15 carries and a touchdowns on offense, as well as grabbing an interception on defense and making a number of big kickoff returns on special teams.

“Trey is such a great player,” Shackelford said. “He can block, he can run it, he can kick it, he can catch it. He can do it all. He is such a force on both sides of the ball. He does a good job of running the football, but people don’t realize what a quality defensive player he is.”

Tony Mack rushed for 145 yards on 17 carries and two touchdown, including an 84-yard scoring run in the first quarter, to lead Kennesaw Mountain (0-2).

It was Mack’s second touchdown run — a 5-yarder with 6:14 remaining in the game — along with Jarrett Guest's 2-point conversion pass to Ryland Goede that gave Kennesaw Mountain a 15-9 lead.

However, Sermon struck back with a 41-yard kickoff return that took the ball to the Mustang 47-yard line on the ensuing kickoff. He London Roberson proceeded to blow past the Kennesaw Mountain defense for a 47-yard scoring run — followed by Jake Pickett’s extra point — to put Sprayberry ahead 16-15 with 5:51 left in the game.

Sermon came up big with a 32-yard run that took the ball to the Kennesaw Mountain 17 on Sprayberry’s next possession with 3:44 left, setting up Roberson’s 2-yard scoring scamper and Pickett’s extra point to give the Yellow Jackets their final margin of victory at the 1:06 mark.

“It was a great, all-around effort,” Shackelford said. “We didn’t necessarily win it all on offense, and we didn’t necessarily win it all on defense, but I thought we won special teams.

Kennesaw Mountain didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard as it scored on the first possession of the game, with Mack’s 84-yard touchdown run and Cantrell’s extra point giving the Mustangs a 7-0 lead with 9:44 remaining in the first quarter.

Sermon made key plays on both offense and defense to give Sprayberry its first score of the game. He intercepted a pass from Guest with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter, then scored on a 9-yard run on the second play of the ensuing drive. Pickett converted the extra point to help the Yellow Jackets tie the game at 7-all with 2:16 left.

The secondaries for both teams came up with big plays on the next two series, with Sprayberry’s Roman Deberry intercepting a Guest pass as time ran out in the first quarter and Kennesaw Mountain’s Myles Jackson picking off a pass from Yellow Jacket quarterback London Roberson with 8:47 remaining in the first half.

It was the defense that put Sprayberry ahead as it threw Mack back into the end zone for a 1-yard loss with 5:20 left in the third quarter to give the Yellow Jackets a 9-7 advantage.

“Hats off to (Sprayberry),” Scott said. “They did a great job, and they’re a great football team, and we just have a long way to go.”

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