Rockmart Yellow Jacket fans have been waiting for a win for seven years, and the tables finally turned toward the east side of Polk County for bragging rights after a 20-14 win over rival Cedartown.
It came down to the final minute of the game when the Jackets drove to their own 43 yard line, and with just over 20 seconds left on the clock found quarterback Dylan Bailey and receiver Juke Boozer connecting to make a memorable 57-yard touchdown pass play to bring the Jackets back from what was about to be a one-point loss.
Head coach Biff Parson was all smiles at the conclusion of the game as fans rushed the field after one last defensive stand to knock out the Bulldogs.
“It’s great for our community, as you saw by the atmosphere,” Parson said. “It’s great for our kids as well to finally overcome that mountain of believing that they can’t play with Cedartown, who is traditionally a really good football team.”
Rockmart and Cedartown’s defenses were the stars of the night as the Jackets were held to just 217 yards of offense over four quarters, and Cedartown held to 134 yards.
Bailey ended his night with two interceptions, two touchdown passes and going 12 for 21 on 155 yards of passing. The Jackets backfield com-bined for 62 yards of rushing through the entire game.
“Offensively we just couldn’t get anything going, but hat’s off to our defense,” he said. “For those two back and what they have on offense… our defense really played lights out. They really did.”
Cedartown’s Taji Hudson started his career going 3 of 3 in passing with just 45 yards, but he along with Tony Mathis and Kobe Pryor put on 89 yards of rushing overall.
The Bulldogs and Jackets were tied through the latter half of the first quarter to near the end of the half, when the Jackets’ Noah Hughes put up a field goal before the buzzer. He added another boot to give Rock-mart some breathing room, but they came storming back in the second half and almost had the game won down to the final minute off of turno-vers.
“We said coming in that we had to play clean football, and we had a lot of mistakes,” Bulldogs head coach Doyle Kelley said. “I’m not taking anything away from them. They have a good football team… We didn’t execute the way we needed to execute. We had them backed up with 27 seconds left in the game, and I don’t know what it was.”
The Bulldogs and Jackets are both right back in action next Friday night, with Cedartown hosting Alexander for their first home game of the season. Rockmart heads to Central Carroll for their opening road trip.
Rockmart’s home opener against Cedartown was the Fox 5 Game of the Week.