The Bartow Yellow Jackets upped their record to 2-0 with a 27-7 win over Auburndale. In a game that featured plenty of penalties and miscues, Bartow never trailed to get their victory.
Just like last year, the two teams were facing off after a rainstorm (last year’s game was started late due to lightning). This year’s game started on time with the threat of rain in the area and Bartow in possession of the opening kickoff.
Bartow opened on the 25, but found themselves in a third and 13 hole. A screen pass to Michael Walker moved the chains with an 18 yard gain. Quarterback Dimitri Leverett faked the handoff to Walker and rolled left, appearing to run. He pulled up and passed to Dwayne Daughtry on the far sideline, who caught the ball in the backfield. He raced untouched for 60 yards to give Bartow the lead with 10:56 to play in the first. Alex Montes added the extra point.
On the ensuing kickoff, Auburndale returned the ball for a touchdown that was called back due to a holding penalty. It put the Hounds on the 25 to start their first possession. After getting one first down, Auburndale resorted to trickery with a direct snap to fullback Charles Taylor, who scampered 66 yards for the score. Burris Warner added the extra point and the score was tied 7-7 at the 8:28 mark.
Bartow benefited on the first play when Auburndale was called for a personal foul after a Walker run. Leverett hit Walker with a Rookard run pushing the Jackets to midfield. Another penalty pushed Bartow closer, but the drive stalled, leading to the first punt of the game. The Auburndale receiver tried to pick up the ball and ended up fumbling out of bounds. Punter Montes had to rush his kick due to Auburndale pressure.
After Bartow was assessed a sideline warning, Auburndale went to work. The first play saw a weak pass picked off by Rashon Donegall and returned to the 20. A penalty pushed it back to the 35 where Leverett hooked up with Quincy Childs for a 22 yard gain. Bartow committed back to back false starts to change the scenario to a first and 20. Things got worse as Bartow kept backing up, facing a third and 30. A long pass by Leverett was headed for Jeramy Williams who was run over with the ball in the air, but no call. Leverett was hit on the play and needed help off the field. Kicker Alex Montes lined up for a 46 yard field goal and connected. While it gave the Jackets a lead, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty had Bartow kicking from deep. The Auburndale runner broke up the middle and only had to beat Vontarius West. West made a touchdown saving tackle. After holding Auburndale, Bartow prepared to receive a punt. The 39 yard kick was offset by a 39 yard return by West, giving Bartow good field position. Bartow had a touchdown called back when Leverett scampered from 39 yards in the rain, but a block in the back ended that change in score. The quarter expired as Montes tried a 48 yarder that was partially blocked. There were 13 penalties in a quarter that took 52 minutes to play.
Auburndale ate up over six minutes to drive to the three when the Hound kicker lined up for a 25 yard attempt that sailed wide. Bartow kept the lead and got the ball back. Faced with a long third down, Leverett hooked up with Eric Rookard, but went to the ground with an apparent shoulder injury. Roy’Qies Graham assumed control, but couldn’t move the team and Bartow was forced to punt. Auburndale had only two minutes to do something and the something they did was wrong.
A backwards pass was fumbled and recovered by Bartow. A 37 yard field goal by Montes was good, but Bartow was called for illegal procedure. They tried to line up for a 42 yard attempt, but time apparently ran out until the officials realized they shouldn’t have started the clock after the penalty. Bartow got another try and Montes banged home a 42 yarder with ease. The score at halftime as Bartow 13, Auburndale 7.
Bartow kept the ball out of the hands of the speedy receivers with a pooch kick to start the third quarter. The visitors couldn’t sustain a drive and Bartow took over at the 18. Leverett moved into position and tested his arm with a short throw that fell incomplete. On the next pass, Leverett took a late hit and popped up to walk with the team for an additional 15 yards. Penalties alternated on the plays until Leverett was sacked to set up a third and 25. A screen to Walker fooled no one and Montes’ punt was nearly blocked, but still a 42 yarder. Auburndale had to punt and Vontarius West had a good return to midfield, but a block in the back pushed Bartow back, the 15th Jacket penalty.
Montes came on to punt, but it was a fake. Montes could only get to the line of scrimmage, handing Auburndale the ball in Bartow territory. The Hound sent in a new quarterback who promptly threw a pick not the hands of Vontarius West, who returned it to the 13. A flag came fluttering in as Bartow picked up a penalty, apparently because the players we beyond the box while rooting for their player. A scoring opportunity was missed with the team going backwards, but Montes punted to the 5 to start the fourth quarter.
Faced with fourth down on their 1, Auburndale lined up to punt with the Jackets threatening to storm. They blocked the punt, which was recover by Romante Bell for the touchdown. Montes booted the extra point to extend the Bartow lead to 20-7.
Auburndale again kicked it away and Bartow moved it thanks to a big play between Leverett and Williams. Williams wrestled the ball away from the defender for a 33 yard gain that culminated with three runs from Keyshawn Martin, the last a one yard touchdown run. The extra point gave Bartow a huge 27-7 margin with 3:41 to go.
Auburndale tried to add points, but the Bartow defense held to stop the scoring. The Jacket victory came despite 20 penalties for nearly 200 yards. Bartow will take their unbeaten record on the road to play winless Lake Region next Friday.