Seminole County coach Alan Ingram said his team's character shined in Friday's huge win against Miller County.
DONALSONVILLE --- On the biggest night of the regular season, Seminole County’s defense didn’t budge an inch.
The Indians held rival Miller County to 173 yards --- including (minus)-3 yards in the fourth quarter --- in Friday night’s annual “Backyard Brawl/Family Feud” rivalry game and stood strong for a 20-0 victory.
Seminole County quarterback Jakhari Martin knew it was the Indians’ night the moment they stepped on the field.
“We knew it. We knew we had to play hard because Miller could come in and score a lot of points,” Martin said outside of the locker room after the game as an assistant coach walked by with some advice.
“Tell him how it is,” the assistant coach shouted. “Them him how sweet it is, baby. Yes sir!”
How sweet indeed for a Seminole County team that has now won three in a row against its biggest rival.
Friday’s dominating win was one that even Indians coach Alan Ingram didn’t see coming.
“I didn’t know if we had a chance to win the thing,” Ingram said. “(Miller) had all the experience. I knew our kids had prepared well and worked hard all week. I think they might have better personnel, but I think the character came through in our kids (Friday) night.”
With the loss, Mitchell County (8-2, 5-1) missed out on clinching its first Region 1-A title since 2009, while the Indians (7-2, 5-0) made sure the championship now runs through Donalsonville.
Seminole faces Mitchell County --- which is 4-1 in the region --- next week and a win gives the Indians the region title. A loss puts Miller, Mitchell and Seminole in a three-way tie that would likely be won by the Pirates.
“I have been working on this one for two or three weeks myself. We have Mitchell next week, and I don’t have a clue what they do,” Ingram said. “I told the kids we had two ball games to win. We had to win both ball games (against Miller and Mitchell) to win the region … and we are halfway there.”
Friday night was all about defense for the Indians, who quieted the overflowing visiting bleachers from the opening drive when they forced an immediate Miller County three-and-out.
The Pirates picked up a few first downs throughout the game (9), but they couldn’t string any together to get on the board. Miller County QB Algin Merritt threw 20 passes but only completed three of them --- and they were all in the first half and all to star WR Jacolby Jones.
If it wasn’t for Jones’ three 40-plus yard catches, the Pirates would have been held to just 45 yards.
The Indians’ offense struggled in the first half when Seminole County had just 60 total yards, but the still took a 6-0 lead into halftime thanks to a 3-yard rushing TD from QB Jakhari Martin, who led Seminole County with 65 rushing yards, on the opening drive.
Seminole County running back Javon Wiggins gave the Indians some cushion with a 15-yard rushing TD with 1:28 in the third quarter, and a fourth-quarter safety and a 23-yard run from Javonte Smith with 2:11 left sealed the deal.
Both teams combining for just eight first downs in the first half, while Seminole, which only had one first down in the second quarter on a Miller County personal foul, was held to 56 rushing yards and didn’t even attempt a pass before halftime.
Miller County’s running game had even more trouble, gaining 14 yards on 14 carries. If it wasn’t for Jones catching a trio of long passes from Merritt, the Pirates would have likely never crossed midfield before halftime.
Jones’ first catch was for 40 yards down the sidelines to the 2-yard line, but the Pirates were backed up by a penalty and one of Parker Miller’s two sacks and never got in the end zone. Jones also had a pair of 44-yard catches in the second quarter, but neither resulted in points for the Pirates, who had won seven games in a row entering Friday’s matchup.
T.J. Means led Miller in rushing with 25 yards on five carries, while Jones finished with 128 yards receiving. The Pirates ran the ball 26 times, and eight of those rushes went for negative yards.
Seminole County’s defense was simply stifling.
“We were playing smart football, smart defense,” said Martin, who recovered a key third quarter fumble. “We played our keys and did what we were coached to do.”
Seminole rushed the ball 44 times and didn’t drop back to pass once. Wiggins carried the ball 13 times for 54 yards, and Daquan Hamlet had seven carries for 27 yards. Seminole senior Jonathan Hudson also picked up a sack, and sophomore Danny Rambo finished off the Pirates with an interception with 34 seconds left in the game.