SUGAR HILL — Thrown to the turf a yard away from a safety on first down, Jarrett Jenkins was just as close to being tackled in the end zone on second down.
The Dacula quarterback, fading backward in the face of a heavy Lanier blitz, heaved a pass from deep in his own end zone to a wide open Chris Scott, 30 yards away from the nearest defender. The speedy wideout raced the rest of the way for a school-record 99-yard touchdown pass.
The big connection switched the momentum of a tight game and sparked a big second quarter for Class AAAAAA’s top-ranked football team, which won its showdown 34-10 at fellow unbeaten and No. 4 Lanier on Friday night. The victory clinches the fourth straight region title for Dacula, which extended its region winning streak to 19 games, dating back to the 2015 finale.
Dacula (9-0, 4-0 region) is now 4-0 against Lanier (8-1, 3-1) the past four seasons after winning the matchup of two teams that made last year's Final Four.
“It’s much more than just winning four (region titles) in a row,” Scott said. “It’s love. It’s dedication. It’s hard work. We busted our tails to get to this point. The way we played tonight, I think we deserved it.”
The big pass play from Jenkins to Scott was the game-changer in the first half.
Lanier started the game by recovering an onside kick and turned it into a 3-0 lead on a 20-yard Jason Mancilla field goal. That lead held through the end of the first quarter, which also saw Dacula miss a field goal and shank an 8-yard punt.
Jenkins found Konata Mumpfield for a 14-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter for a 7-3 advantage, but Lanier took a 14-play drive to the Dacula 39-yard line. The Longhorns lined up to go for fourth-and-2, but were called for an illegal substitution.
They pinned Dacula at the 7-yard line with a punt, then Jamar Rucks threw Jenkins for a big loss on first down. He was ruled down at the 1-yard line, though Rucks pushed him back into the end zone on the play.
Lanier brought the heat on second down and nearly got to Jenkins, but was caught on a busted coverage that left Scott wide open for the decisive 99-yard TD. Jenkins finished 12 of 18 passing for 290 yards and three TDs.
“We had talked about all week that they would bite on a little out, so I just set my feet and threw it up there for Chris because I knew no one was back there,” Jenkins said. “It just kind of happened. I got up and started running. All I knew is that we scored a touchdown. … That was the play right there for sure. From there, we just took off.”
Scott was so wide open he had to slow up and wait for the pass.
“The corners love to blitz when they get an out route,” Scott said. “As soon as I saw that out route, I faked a block and I just took off. Jarrett just threw it up and I was there. The longest touchdown in history. … It was nerve-racking. I was like, ‘Man if I drop this, it’s horrible.’”
Instead of taking a safety in a 7-3 game, Dacula went ahead 14-3 and never looked back.
“We almost get thrown in the end zone there and on the next play, obviously it was a busted coverage on them, but Jarrett does a great job seeing it and getting the ball to Chris,” Dacula head coach Clint Jenkins said. “We felt like if we got it to Chris, we were pretty safe that he was going to get there.”
After that TD, Dacula got a quick three-and-out and scored again in three plays. Jenkins hit his brother Blaine Jenkins for 14 yards to get the drive started, then he found Kyle Efford on a 34-yard screen pass. Efford made a great spin move on the run and powered his way to the Lanier 2-yard line.
Efford finished it off from there for a 21-3 halftime advantage.
Dacula’s defense dominated the third quarter, holding Lanier to minus-three yards and no first downs. The Longhorns tried a fake punt midway through the third quarter that failed, and the Falcons scored on the next play, a 27-yard TD pass from Jarrett Jenkins to Mumpfield.
Another Lanier three-and-out led to a quick Dacula score on a 16-yard run from Efford, pushing the lead to 34-3 and setting up a running clock in the fourth quarter.
The Longhorns got a 1-yard TD run from Taj Barnes in the fourth quarter, but Dacula had mixed in reserves on defense by then. Lanier tallied just 30 yards rushing on 36 attempts and Barnes, its 1,000-yard rusher, had 24 carries for 57 yards. Andrew Blackford was 14 of 23 passing for 124 yards and Nahil Perkins had seven catches for 66 yards, though the passing attack was hindered by a first-quarter injury to tall wideout Cole Thornton, who never returned.
Kaleb Edwards also played a big role offensively for Dacula with four catches for 83 yards, and three rushes for 23 yards. Trenton Jones rushed for 91 yards on 10 carries, though his numbers were inflated by a late 63-yard run. Take away that play, and Dacula managed just 72 rushing yards on 25 attempts against the Lanier defense.
But the Dacula defense was even more impressive — Efford had four tackles for losses, and Adam Watkins had two tackles for losses — in securing a fourth straight region title.
“It means a lot to win four in a row,” Clint Jenkins said. “There’s only two championships you can win and this is a big one to set you up going into the playoffs. But to win four in a row and to have gotten to be a part of it all four years means a lot. I’m so happy for our kids and our community.”
DACULA 34, LANIER 10
Dacula 0 21 13 0 - 34
Lanier 3 0 0 7 - 10
Lanier: Jason Mancilla 20 FG, 8:46
Dacula: Konata Mumpfield 14 pass from Jarrett Jenkins (Zach Gerks kick) 10:14
Dacula: Chris Scott 99 pass from Jenkins (Gerks kick) 2:45
Dacula: Kyle Efford 2 run (Gerks kick) :55
Dacula: Mumpfield 27 pass from Jenkins (Gerks kick) 4:23
Dacula: Efford 16 run (kick failed) 1:07
Lanier: Taj Barnes 1 run (Mancilla kick) 5:20
First downs 17 8
Rushes-yards 26-135 30-36
Passing yards 290 124
Comp-Att-INT 12-18-0 14-24-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 6-45 7–72
RUSHING - Dacula: Trenton Jones 10-91; Efford 5-25; Kaleb Edwards 3-23; Jarrett Jenkins 3-8; Scott 1-2; Team 1-(minus-3); E’mond Pittman 3-(minus-11). Lanier: Barnes 24-57; Tyler Washington 3-(minus-6); Nahil Perkins 1-(minus-6); Andrew Blackford 2-(minus-9).
PASSING - Dacula: Jarrett Jenkins 12-18-0, 290. Lanier: Blackford 14-23-0, 124; Cesar Campos 0-1-0, 0.
RECEIVING - Dacula: Kaleb Edwards 4-83; Mumpfield 3-45; Blaine Jenkins 3-29; Scott 1-99; Efford 1-34. Lanier: Perkins 7-66; Washington 3-25; Barnes 2-0; Cole Thornton 1-26; Reese Scott 1-7.