The Baldwin Braves fell to neighboring Jones County 27-0 in their first home game of the season, Friday.
Fans filled the bleachers to about three quarters capacity on both sides of the field as the pass-heavy Greyhounds capitalized on several big plays to secure the victory.
Derrick Lewis got the start at quarterback for Baldwin and took most of the snaps, but split time with lefty Gerald Kilgore. Kilgore threw two interceptions in the game and, while he produced several big plays, Lewis struggled with consistency.
“Right now we don’t know,” head coach Jesse Hicks said about the quarterback situation after the game. “It’s kind of up in the air. We’ve just gotta get some consistency out of the position. We get a couple of plays and then we go out and we don’t play well and then (put in) another guy and the same thing happens.”
After Baldwin went three-and-out to start the game, Jones County countered with two pass plays and a fake-pass, handoff that went for a long touchdown three plays into the game.
A face mask brought the ball back and Baldwin forced a punt, but the tone was set for the night.
Baldwin’s mostly effective defense, and a disproportionate number of offensive penalties on Jones County, didn’t stop the Greyhounds from breaking through with big plays. They scored three times in the first half and once near the close of the game.
The Braves’ best shot at the end zone came in the second quarter down 14-0 when Jeramiyah Scott was tackled at the 1-yard line on a 33-yard gain. Running back Noah Hill took a direct snap twice and couldn’t punch it in. After an illegal procedure penalty put the ball back 5 yards, an incomplete pass, and a delay of game, kicker Lucas Webb’s 29-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
Jones County took a 21-0 lead to halftime and nearly started the third quarter with fireworks, returning the kickoff to Baldwin’s 26. They were unable to capitalize though, and both teams played the back-and-forth game of punts, and one interception thrown by Baldwin, until Jones County managed to find the end zone again with less than four minutes left in the game.
Baldwin had possession twice more after that, once after recovering a muffed punt, but the game ended with the Greyhounds taking a knee twice.
“Just too many mistakes in the first half,” Hicks said. “Everything they got, we pretty much gave it to them. We got in a situation where we play great defense, and then we turn around and give up a big play, turn the ball over on offense, throwing interceptions.”
A strong defensive showing in the second half and underclassmen putting their licks in on the field left Hicks several positives to take away from the game.
“To be honest, I just like the way our kids fought,” he said. “They fought, they didn’t give up, they never backed up. We’ve just got to fix what’s broken. We’ve got a lot of young kids that are playing. That’s not an excuse, but at the end of the day, you know, you gotta make plays. That’s why they’re out there. So we’ve gotta try to figure that out offensively and defensively.”
Baldwin travels to Veterans next Friday and will not see its home field again until Oct. 11 when they take on Richmond Academy in its Region 3-4A opener.