Opposing defenses are always going to focus on Jenkins wide receiver Tyrone Scott, and the 6-foot-3, 195-pound blue-chip recruit showed why Thursday night with another strong performance.
But it was Treshawn Douse who became an improbable hero for the Warriors in a 43-41 win over Liberty County at Memorial Stadium.
Douse, a 5-foot-7, 125-pound receiver, caught his first pass of the year, which turned out to be his first career touchdown. He had just six career receptions going into the game. And the senior known by the nickname “Tuff” didn’t slow down – finishing with five catches for 109 yards and two scores.
“We showed tonight that our offense isn’t just about Tyrone Scott,” Jenkins coach Jason Cameron said. “If defenses are going to go high/low on him like they did tonight, we have some other guys like Douse, who can make some plays.”
Senior quarterback Javonte Middleton was 13 of 26 for 262 yards with three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions, while Scott, who has a number of Division I offers, caught three balls for 79 yards and a score.
“We told ‘Tuff’ that he needed to make his first catch tonight, and he caught his first touchdown pass on the same play,” Middleton said. “He did a good job breaking his route off on the defensive back; it was something we talked about before the game.”
Jenkins jumped out to a 28-14 lead and led 28-27 at intermission. Senior running back Ameen Stevens took over in the second half, when he rushed for 63 of his 93 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.
But Liberty County battled back. Kris Coleman rushed for 68 yards and a pair of scores, including an 8-yard TD run, followed by a two-point conversion that tied the game at 35 with 2:52 left in the third quarter.
Jenkins took the lead again when Stevens went around left end for a 10-yard score. The snap on the extra point was botched, but Middleton, the holder, picked up the loose ball and connected with Taurus Simmons for the 2-point conversion to put Jenkins up 43-35.
Russell Dandy returned the ensuing kickoff back 80 yards for a score, but the Warrior defense clamped down and stopped the two-point conversion try on a run.
Jenkins entered the game ranked No. 5 among Class 3A teams by the Georgia Sportswriters Association, while the Panthers were No. 8.
“I have to give Liberty County a ton of credit, they never stopped,” Cameron said. “They answered one touchdown with a pick-six and then another with a kick return. This game was a fist fight, and we kept on fighting to come out on top.”
Jenkins took the opening drive 77 yards in 10 plays. Middleton dropped back and found Douse wide open on the right side of the field for an easy 15-yard scoring strike.
Liberty broke through on a mistake by Middleton, who was looking for Ameen Stevens in the right flat deep in his own territory. Panther senior Traveon Freeman read it perfectly – stepping in front of the pass and waltzing into the end for a 5-yard interception return that tied it at 7-7 with 5:26 left in the first quarter.
Middleton bounced back quickly and fired a strike to Scott in the right corner of the end zone for another 15-yard score with 1:12 left in the first quarter as Jenkins went up 14-7 after Michael Greco’s extra point.
Liberty County junior Carlos Hunt (80 yards on 11 carries) showed off his rugged running style on the next Panther touchdown, bouncing off a Warrior defensive back and rumbling in for a 39-yard score as Liberty County tied it at 14 with 11:29 left in the first half.
Jenkins answered as Middleton hit Douse down the right sideline, and Douse made a defender miss, keeping his balance with a hand on the turf for a sweet 30-yard scoring reception with 9:14 left in the half.
“That’s a move I always do in practice and it worked in a game today,” Douse said. “It felt great to have a big impact on the game.”
The Warrior defense followed with a huge play as Edward Osborne picked up a fumble by Hunt and sprinted in from 10 yards out as Jenkins took a 28-14 lead with 7:59 left in the half.
The Panthers next touchdown drive was highlighted by a reverse that almost saw Jaleel Gilbert stopped for a big loss, but he stayed up and threw to his left to Kris Coleman, who raced down the sideline for a gain of 27. Coleman finished off the 70-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring run as Liberty cut the Jenkins lead to 28-21.
Alvin Roberts intercepted Middleton with 1:54 left in the half, and the Panthers capitalized with a 38-yard scoring drive, with Dionte Bowens scoring from a yard out with :14 seconds remaining. Alec Sutton missed the point after wide left, and Jenkins lead 28-27 at intermission.
Jenkins had an interception by Fred Stringer and a fumble recovery by Daniel Jordan, who made plays all night.
“I thought Liberty County was tough, they had a good offensive line and they found out what was working with that wishbone and stuck with it,” Jenkins linebacker Kareem Bailey said. “But we kept our heads up on defense and made stops when we needed them.”
JHS — Treshawn Douse 15 pass from Javonte Middleton (Michael Greco kick)
LC — Traveon Freeman 5 interception return (Alec Sutton kick)
JHS — Tyrone Scott 15 pass from Middleton (Greco kick)
LC-Carlos Hunt 39 run (Sutton kick)
JHS — Douse 30 pass from Middleton (Greco kick)
JHS — Edward Osborne 10 fumble return (Greco kick)
LC — Kris Coleman 1 run (Sutton kick)
LC — Dionte Bowens 2 run (kick missed)
JHS — Ameen Stevens 4 run (Greco kick)
LC-Coleman 6 run (Coleman run)
JHS — Stevens 10 run (Taurus Simmons pass from Middleton)
LC— Russell Dany 80 kick return (run failed)
Records — Jenkins 3-0; LC 1-2