Quarterback Randon Jernigan was a bad man in the best way possible for Glynn Academy on Friday night. While Jernigan did his thing on offense, the Red Terror defense was in the face of Valdosta’s two quarterbacks the entire night.
The equation added up to a 27-3 Glynn victory and a home game next week in the second round.
“It felt great (to get the win),” Jernigan said. “I thought it was going to be a defensive game, and we got some turnovers and capitalized.”
Glynn’s ground game punched Valdosta’s defense in the mouth on the opening drive of the game. Caine Crews, Nolan Grant and Jernigan each had double-digit runs to set up Glynn inside the Wildcats’ 10-yard line.
The drive stalled out at the five yards away from the end zone, leaving Jack Podlesney to boot through a 22-yard field goal for a 3-0 advantage.
After the Glynn defense forced a punt, the Terrors were pinned back inside their own 20-yard line. That’s when the Jernigan show kicked into high gear.
Facing second-and-14 from their 14-yard line, the Terrors ran an option to the left. Jernigan, reading his keys, kept the ball and raced through a seam in the Valdosta defense. The senior wasn’t touched until his teammates were congratulating him 86 yards later for scoring the touchdown and putting Glynn up 10-0.
“I have a pull read if the end comes down and I have a pitch,” Jernigan said. “The guy didn’t take me so I just ran right through.”
Jernigan’s exploits came as no surprise to his teammates.
“He amazes me every day,” said Glynn linebacker/running back Hunter Hall. “He’s always got a trick up his sleeve.”
The Valdosta defense contained Glynn for the remainder of the half. The Wildcats pounced on a Crews fumble at the Glynn 23-yard line in the second quarter, but the Terrors’ defense squashed any chance of a touchdown when James Dyal sacked quarterback Hunter Holt to end the threat. The Cats would get a 40-yard field goal to cut the lead to 10-3.
Holt did not start the game for the Wildcats. Tate Rodemaker was behind center in the first quarter, but the Terrors were prepared for whoever was back there.
“We came in prepared for (both) quarterbacks,” Hall said. “We had all the ends covered.”
Glynn’s offfense got in gear for the final drive of the half. Jernigan broke free for a 28-yard gain on third down to keep the driving going. The Terrors would get down to the 4-yard line with four seconds left in the half. The Terrors opted for another Podlesney field goal to make it 13-3 at the half.
The third quarter wasn’t friendly to either offense, including a sequence where Glynn punted on second-and-42 from deep in its own territory. The punt set up Valdosta in Glynn territory, and a hook and lateral on fourth down kept the driving going.
Glynn’s defense again put the clamps on the Valdosta offense, forcing another field goal try. The 40-yard attempt came up short after Hall got a piece of it.
Hall would also put away any notion of a Wildcat comeback when he picked off Rodemaker and returned the ball all the way to the Glynn 21-yard line. Jernigan finished off a short drive with his second touchdown run of the day, this time from 9 yards out.
Jernigan finished the game with 195 rushing yards on just 14 carries and two scores.
“He was the best player on the field tonight and a lot of people won’t see the things that he did tonight,” GA head coach Rocky Hidalgo said. “He was really aggressive with the ball. I’m proud of the way he played.”
Nolan Grant added a 14-yard touchdown run with less than four minutes to play for the final result.
Valdosta’s best sustained drive of the night came at the end of the game. The Wildcats went from their own 20 to the Glynn 22, but a sack on Rodemaker provided the coda for the game.
The Terrors held Valdosta to just 127 total yards with nearly 50 coming on the final drive. Glynn’s defense also finished the game with seven sacks.
“I felt like we were on the cusp of playing great all year long,” Hidalgo said of the defense. “We had some kids grow up. I thought Tyshawn Lang and Hunter Hall played their best game inside. They were spectacular tonight. It was a great night for us on the defensive side of the ball.”
Putting pressure on the quarterback, whether it was Rodemaker or Holt, was Glynn’s objective from the start. Hidalgo also wanted his defense to let Valdosta know the Terrors could play just as physical as the Wildcats.
“We heard about how physical they were and we wanted to play physical,” Hidalgo said. “We wanted to come out here and put them on the ground a little bit and see if they could match our physicality. It’s probably the most physical we’ve been all year.”
The defense has not allowed more than 14 points in a game in their last five outings. Despite some struggles early in the season, Jernigan knew the defense would find its footing.
“I knew Hunter was going to get them right,” Jernigan said. “They’ve been good for five games straight. I don’t want to jinx them or nothing but they’ve been playing really well.”
Glynn will host Heritage-Conyers in the second round after the No. 3 seed upset No. 2 seed Stephenson 20-7 on Friday.