Turnover opens the door for second-half surge in Bruce win over Vardaman

VARDAMAN – Bruce needed a wakeup call in their county rivalry game Friday night. After a first half when the Trojans offense seemed asleep, Javon Petty delivered the message that sparked his team.
With Vardaman’s Will Tutor seemingly stopped near the line on a running play by a host of Bruce defenders, Petty wound up with the ball in his hands and returned the ball 41 yards to the 3-yard line.
A play later, Davis Brown’s quarterback sneak to the end zone with 6:58 remaining in the third quarter shifted the game’s momentum to the Trojans’ sideline.
The second touchdown of the half for the No. 1 team in the Daily Journal’s Small Schools rankings, Brown’s run helped begin a 42-point second half for Bruce to complete a 48-12 comeback victory over Vardaman.
“I don’t see how he wasn’t down, but the referees called it,” Vardaman coach Justin Hollis said of Tutor’s carry. Hollis ran onto the field after the play was dead to argue to no avail for his Rams.
Vardaman’s defense shut the Trojans down in the first half, allowing only 59 total yards. Bruce’s only score of the half came on Shaq Bush’s 62 yard punt return.
However late in the second half, the Rams’ defense seemed to tire and Bruce took advantage of their depth with touchdown runs by Zay Armstrong (9 yards), Ted Esom (39), Ben Williams (52), and Bush (45).
Bruce (2-0) also took advantage of Vardaman miscues early in the third quarter. Jonathan Bobo blocked punter Dillon Landreth’s kick then returned it five yards to give the Trojans their first lead of the game, 13-12.
On the drive after Petty’s fumble recovery, Vardaman quarterback Cody Jenkins faked a fourth-down attempt and instead punted the ball six yards, setting Armstrong’s touchdown a play later.
“We’ve been so young for so long now I think that’s the age showing,” Bruce coach James Ray said, “We took advantage of their turnovers and mistakes. I’ve never seen a game turn like that.”
The Rams (0-2) held a 12-6 halftime lead. Jenkins found Donta Walker for a wide-open 43 yard strike to take a 6-0 lead after the first quarter.
After Bush’s punt return, Eric Jones scored on a 17 yard pass from Walker, who took the snap from the center, for what turned out to be Vardaman’s final points of the game.

Blake Long/Special to the Journal