LOGANVILLE — Loganville hosted its homecoming Friday, but the Jackson County Panthers took the night for their own.
Spurred by a 260-yard, four-touchdown effort from running back Tre Ransom, the Panthers (3-3, 1-2 Region 8-AAAAA) routed the Red Devils 47-23 Oct. 1 on the road for one of the program’s bigger wins in recent memory.
Loganville entered the game tied for first in Region 8-AAAAA.
“It’s what these guys deserve,” third-year Jackson County coach Rich McWhorter said of his team. “They’ve worked so hard for the last three years in the weight room, and they’ve come so close.”
This is Jackson County’s first win over Loganville (3-3, 2-1 Region 8-AAAAA) since 1996, breaking a streak of 10-straight losses.
McWhorter said he didn't want to call the victory a signature win, but it was significant one for the team, nevertheless, he said.
"It shows that the work we put in paid off tonight," he said.
Up 33-23 in the fourth quarter, Jackson County put the game away with touchdown runs of 80 and 34 yards from Ransom as the Panthers avenged a 47-7 loss to Loganville last year and picked up their first region win.
Jackson County piled up 495 total yards of offense in a turnover-free victory, 311 of which came on the ground.
"It's really clicking," McWhorter said of his offense. "Things are going. It all starts up front with the offensive line. Tre, I'm sure, had a pile of yards, but it really all started up front with those guys."
McWhorter was particularly proud of his team's running-game production.
"That was kind of the emphasis of the week, let's the run game going," McWhorter said.
As for the passing game, Panther quarterback Connor Bejin went 11-for-21 for 184 yards with a touchdown. His favorite target was Jaden Cofer, who enjoyed a monster night with eight catches for 129 yards.
But it was Ransom who took over the second half, rushing for 184 yards in the final two quarters. 153 of those yards came on just three carries. McWhorter said Ransom took advantage of opportunities when Loganville loaded the box, leaving few defenders available once he reached the second level.
"You look at the blitz, they're loading up the box, but then there's not a lot behind it, and that's kind of a feast or famine thing to where if you sell out and we can get three yards, you've got a chance to get all of them ... and Tre knows that better than anybody," McWhorter said.
The victory came on the heels of tough-to-swallow region losses to Walnut Grove and Clarke Central the past two weeks, but Jackson County didn’t appear hindered by those disappointments.
The Panthers scored the first 17 points of the contest with a 1-yard touchdown from Bejin, a 38-yard touchdown pass from Bejin to Anthony Finley — following the recovery of a pooch kick — and a 22-yard field goal from Brice Rogers.
A 5-yard touchdown run from Ransom gave the Panthers a 23-6 lead late in the first half.
The second half looked much the same.
Jackson County led 30-13 less than a minute into the third quarter when Ransom went 39 yards for a touchdown — his first of three second-half scores — just two plays after a successful onside kick to open the second half.
Jackson County moved the lead to 33-16 with Rogers' second field goal of the night, a 24-yarder, with 1:10 left in third. The Panthers then took that lead into the fourth quarter when Ransom broke the game open. Ransom essentially sealed the win with 9:46 left when he took a handoff up the middle on second down and sprinted 80 yards to put Jackson County up 40-23.
Avery Hamilton kept Loganville within striking distance in the first half with a 40-yard, second-quarter touchdown run that got the Red Devils on the board. His fourth-quarter touchdown with 10:07 left in the game cut game to a 10-point deficit — 33-23 — briefly. Hamilton finished with 158 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Soloman Leslie also found the end zone for Logaville, scoring on a 14-yard touchdown run in the closing moments of the first half.
With the victory, McWhorter continues to move closer to win No. 300 as Friday’s victory put him at 298.
The Panthers have four region games remaining on the schedule as they push for their first state playoff berth since 2017.
"We've got a shot in these last four," McWhorter said. "We really do. I wouldn't say we're favored, but I wouldn't count us out on any of these next four games."
The Panthers travel to Johnson-Gainesville next Friday (Oct. 8) before an off week. Jackson County then returns to action Oct. 22 at home against Eastside.
Jackson Co. 47, Loganville 23
JCHS 14 9 10 14 — 47
LHS 0 13 3 7 — 23
JCHS — Bejin 1-yard run (Rogers' PAT good), 7-0, 5:14, first quarter
JCHS — Finley 38-yard pass from Bejin (Rogers' PAT good), 14-0, 5:07, first quarter
JCHS — Rogers 22-yard field goal, 17-0, 7:50, second quarter
LHS – Hamilton 40-yard run (PAT no good), 17-6, 7:20, second quarter
JCHS — Ransom 5-yard run (Rogers' PAT no good), 23-6, 2:43, second quarter
LHS — Leslie 14-yard run (PAT good), 23-13, 0:18, second quarter
JCHS — Ransom 39-yard run (Rogers' PAT good), 30-13, 11:12, third quarter
LHS — 20-yard field goal, 30-16, 7:10, third quarter
JCHS — Rogers 24-yard field goal, 33-16, 1:10, third quarter
LHS — Hamilton 3-yard run (PAT good), 33-23, 10:07 fourth quarter
JCHS — Ransom 80-yard run (Rogers' PAT good), 40-23, 9:46, fourth quarter
JCHS — Ransom 34-yard run (Rogers' PAT good), 47-23, 5:24, fourth quarter