J.R. Tucker made the trip across town with momentum on its side, starting the season 3-0 while Hermitage had dropped its past two games.
But the Panthers proved they still had plenty of fight, setting the pace on their way to a 35-8 win over the Tigers — something junior running back KaRon “Bubba” Burton attributes, in part, to their bright red jerseys.
“We got the new jerseys, now we’re undefeated in them,” Burton said. “Hopefully we can keep that up. No more lost games.”
Burton collected 78 yards and a score while occasionally stepping in to receive the snap. Between Burton, running back Jeremiah Coney and quarterback Jaylen Burton, the Panthers had plenty of options to keep the Tigers on their toes.
Coney, who has an offer from UVA, ran for 108 yards. Jaylen Burton had 77 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, then threw for another.
For first-year Hermitage coach Timothy Jean-Pierre, there are no doubts about the talent on his team. Winning, then, becomes a matter of keeping the X’s and O’s straight.
“We know we’re one of the more talented teams in the region. We’re just trying to put those pieces together,” Jean-Pierre said. “Obviously with the learning curve I’m going through right now, we’re just trying to make sure that we put our players in the best position to be successful.”
The Panthers (2-2) were able to capitalize on a Tiger error early, with Coney and the two Burtons building off a fumble recovery and a penalty that set Jaylen Burton up for their first touchdown of the game.
Then, in the second quarter, Jaylen Burton and KaRon Burton picked up 30-yard scores on the ground to take a 21-0 lead.
“Everything that we do goes through the team,” Coney said of the trio’s success. “Our O-line, the blockers, receivers, Bubba, Jaylen — everybody. I couldn’t do it without them.”
The Hermitage defense was led by Brailen Jones and Christian Stubbs, with eight and seven tackles, respectively.
Quarterback Kam Clarke got the Tigers on the board before halftime with a deep pass that set up Caleb Smith for a short run home, then ran for a 2-point conversion to send them into halftime down 21-8. He finished with 110 yards through the air.
But the Panthers continued their dominance after the break. Tight end Dahman Arties collected a pick-6 in the third quarter, then Chase Rivers was on the receiving end of Jaylen Burton’s throwing TD to close out the scoring.
Hermitage now has a 46-11 historical edge in the series.
J.R. Tucker next faces Glen Allen, which picked up its first victory of the season with an OT decision against Hermitage last week. Hermitage is scheduled to face Meadowbrook next, an 0-2 program that had to cancel its game against Petersburg this week after COVID precautions.
Whoever the Panthers play next, their focus will be the same as it was against the Tigers — inward.
“We don’t come out looking to be better than other teams. We just come out looking to be the best version of us and let everything else fall as it may,” Jean-Pierre said.
J.R. Tucker 0 8 0 0 — 8
Hermitage 7 14 7 7 — 35
Herm — J. Burton 1 run (Meginity kick)
Herm — Ka. Burton 31 run (Meginity kick)
Herm — J. Burton 30 run (Meginity kick)
JRT — Smith 1 run (Clarke run)
Herm — Arties 7 interception return (Meginity kick)
Herm — Rivers 7 pass from J. Burton (Meginity kick)
JRT — Kameron Johnson 7-18, Kam Clarke 4-16, Johnny Patrick 6-14; Herm — Jeremiah Coney 18-108, KaRon Burton 8-78, Jaylen Burton 8-77
JRT — Kam Clarke 10-18-110-1; Herm— Jaylen Burton 8-13-67
JRT — Jayden Lee 3-58, Cameron William 4-20, Dominque Harris 2-16; Herm — Chase Rivers 2-22, Breon Gunnell 2-18, Jeremiah Coney 2-14, Malik Myers 1-5, KaRon Burton 1-5