Bartlett Yancey wide receiver/defensive back Quinton Barley looked over at his coaches after his team’s post-game huddle, smiled, and said, “I haven’t seen you guys smile like that in a long time.”
Barley, along with the rest of the Bucs and coaching staff, had a reason to smile.
Bartlett Yancey scored a pair of unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter to secure a 30-19 win over Chapel Hill in its home opener Friday.
“We’re building up confidence in each other,” said junior Ahmad Byrd. “We already know each other and we’re learning to trust each other.
Bartlett Yancey (2-0) started the third period trailing by a possession. On the Bucs’ third play from scrimmage, junior Michael Slade broke loose for a 51-yard run that moved BY deep into Chapel Hill territory. Senior Jacob Scales made Slade’s offer not in vain, when he got behind a Justin Mitili monstrous block and took the ball in for a 16-yard score, giving the Bucs a 24-19 edge with 3:08 left in the third.
Chapel Hill (0-2) found itself on the verge of retaking the lead after driving the ball 85 yards down the field on its ensuing drive. The Tigers got as far as the 7-yard line, before the Bucs’ defense made four big stops, forcing the turnover on downs.
“Mental reps,” said Jayquan Morton, when asked what led to the opening drive. “Working hard every day in practice, communicating and making sure we know what we need to do stepping out onto that field.”
On the flip side of the big stop, BY received the ball in the shadow of its own end zone, facing a Kubrickian mile at the 7-yard line. It didn’t take long for the Bucs to create some light as Slade busted loose for a 23-yard run to get BY down to the 30-yard line. It was the Slade and Cody Johnson show from there, as Johnson followed Slade’s run with a 45-yard scamper of his own and Slade finished off the three-play, 93-yard drive with his 26-yard touchdown run — his second on the night.
"We knew we had to believe in each other, and I don’t think we got tired tonight,” Johnson said. “We worked really hard on conditioning in the spring and summer and the second half has killed us in the past but so far it hasn’t this season.”
Byrd added, “We knew we just had to keep working hard and keep pushing because we believe and know the other team is going to break down before we do.”
Morton helped the Bucs come out the gate strong, stepping in front of a Tigers’ pass and returning 52 yards for a touchdown that gave the Buccaneers a six-point lead minutes into the game.
Chapel Hill absorbed the blow, punching the ball into the end zone on its ensuing possession. Elijah Ayankoya gave the Tigers a 7-6 lead when he scored from five yards out midway through the first period.
BY coughed up the football on the kicked off and Chapel Hill recovered the ball at the 31-yard line, giving the Tigers solid field position. Chapel Hill used the Bucs’ mistake to its advantage, putting together a five-play scoring drive capped off by Caleb Clegg’s 13-yard touchdown run that made it a 13-6 game.
Scales made sure the score didn’t stand long as he took a handoff from Johnson and broke loose for a 5-yard run on BY’s next possession.
It was a defensive duel from there as neither side scored until nearly seven minutes later when Kyhili Jones hauled in a 38-yard score that gave the Tigers a 19-12 lead.
It was the Bucs’ turn next, as Johnson and Kyman Tyler connected for a 40-yard touchdown pass down the right side that made it a one-point game heading into the half.
Slade finished with 242 rushing yards and a pair of scores, while Scales found the end zone on the ground twice as well. Johnson threw for 97 yards, including his 40-yard strike to Tyler.