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Patriots make a huge comeback, could win Region title Friday night

Perseverance has paid off for Bob Jones.

After a 42-14 blowout loss to Class 6A, Region 8 rival Hazel Green, the Patriots were 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the region and were not playing up to the level of recent Bob Jones teams. They allowed 40 or more points in three of their first four games, trailed then-undefeated Austin and lost the tie-breaker edge to Hazel Green.

Since then Bob Jones has won four straight due to its ball-control offense and much improved defensive play. The winning streak has put the Patriots back in the playoffs and in position to clinch its fourth straight region championship by beating Austin Friday.

“It’s been a very challenging year,” Bob Jones coach Kevin Rose said. “We’re glad to be in this position.”

Rose and his staff did not panic after losing to Hazel Green. Rose said no major changes were made on the field. The Patriots just continued with their game plan and the play on the field gradually improved with the continuity.

The solid production of the running back tandem of Jay Rogers and Kevin Wright has fueled the offense. They combined for 250 yards and four touchdowns as Bob Jones beat Buckhorn 35-7 last week. The Patriots rushed for 302 yards in the win.

Rose credited the potent ground game for taking pressure off the passing game and the defense. Quarterback Trey Bates has not had to carry the load with his arm and the defense has been kept fresher with fewer plays on the field.

The defense has responded in a huge way by keeping opponents out of the end zone. After allowing 124 during the 2-2 start, it has limited teams to a total of 28 points in going 4-0 since.

The defense “has been almost perfect in the red zone,” Rose said.

Senior linebackers Dustin Harraway and Drew Davis have stepped up in the leadership role on the defense. Rose commended them for their contributions.
“It’s the speed at which they play and practice,” Rose said. “They go 100 percent all the time.”

Bob Jones will need to continue that level of effort against Austin, ranked No. 4 in 6A entering last week’s game. Despite losing for the first time this season last week, 25-10 at Florence, the Black Bears can still win the region by beating Bob Jones and getting a Florence loss at Sparkman.

In the loss, Austin finished with only 192 total yards (73 on its last drive), allowed seven sacks and had two passes intercepted. Bob Jones will attempt to keep the pressure on Austin quarterback Chris Sparkman and contain running back Josh Walker.