VERNON — The Vernon Yellow Jackets pulled out a conference win in the last minute Friday night when senior Julian Silas returned a put 89-yards to break a 7-7 tie with 59 seconds left to play against district rival Graceville Tigers.
The Yellow Jackets (4-3) remained undefeated 2-0 in conference play in their last home game of the season. With the loss, Graceville falls to 4-4, 1-2 in district play.
The Tigers took the lead early in the first quarter when Jared Padgett scrambled 45 yards to score, capping a 72-yard, 4-play drive. Bryce Jowers’ kick was good for the extra point and Graceville had a 7-0 lead, which they held until the third quarter.
Vernon sophomore quarterback Tristan Porter called his own number and ran 56 yards to score on a sweep with 6:10 left in the third. Senior Aaron Bowers’ kick was good and the score was tied 7-7.
As the final minutes of the fourth quarter waned, it looked like overtime was a sure thing, then a short-lived Graceville possession that netted only two yards on four plays ended with a punt and just over a minute left to play.
Silas had dropped back for the punt return and it fell right in his lap at the Vernon 11-yard line. Silas began running and dodging, nearly being forced out of bounds near the Graceville 45 before he slipped a pair of Tiger defenders and cut back toward the south edge of the field, where he was able to outrun another handful of Tigers on his way to his 89-yard return. Bowers added a point with a field goal and the score was 14-7 with 59 seconds left to play.
Graceville fielded the kickoff at their own 35, and were able to milk four tries out of the remaining time, thanks to four incomplete passes, but were not able to get past the line of scrimmage. The Yellow Jackets took back over on downs at the Tigers’ 35-yard line with 38 seconds left. Porter took a knee and that was the end.
Vernon travels to Wewahitchka for conference play next Friday.