MONTGOMERY — Exavyer Jackson knew Friday night would be the last time he took the football field, so he announced before the game he was going out with a boom.
The former Piedmont defensive lineman posted the promise on Facebook and kept his word in the North’s 20-12 loss to the South to close out All-Star Sports Week.
Jackson made seven tackles, including four for a loss, recorded a sack, forced a fumble and caused a safety.
“I decided I wanted to come out and set the tone. That’s all I ever strive to do on defense,” he said. “If you come out and set the tone then your team has a chance to win. That was my goal.”
Jackson set the tone in more ways than one.
His safety was what put the North on the scoreboard after the South took an early advantage.
The North turned the ball over on its first two possessions and the South scored on the next play both times, including on a double-reverse flea flicker on its first offensive play.
“I got caught looking in the backfield and also I didn’t expect them to come out like that,” said Chris Briskey, who was an all-state defensive back at Clay Central last fall. “He got behind me when I was looking for and expecting a run.”
After back-to-back scores, the South tried running the ball on its third possession, but Jackson wasn’t going to allow it.
The 2013 Class 3A Lineman of the Year finalist tackled the running back for a loss on the first play of the drive and tackled the quarterback in the end zone for a safety on the next.
“Before we came out here, I looked at everyone and promised them that I was going to get at least one sack, two forced fumbles and I’m going to score,” Jackson said. “That’s what I did. I’m a man of my word.”
The North defense held strong after the first two possessions, and Jackson was a large reason why.
Midway through the second quarter, the South had the ball deep in the North’s territory. After the drive failed near the end zone, the South elected to go for it on fourth down from the 1-yard line.
Jackson forced a fumble that was recovered by the South, but the play still caused a turnover on downs.
“I don’t know what they were trying to run, but as soon as the ball snapped, instead of me making contact with anybody, I just dove through and grabbed the quarterback’s arm,” he said. “He didn’t get the snap off cleanly and he fumbled it.”
While Jackson controlled things in the trenches, Briskey wasn’t caught slipping again. He finished the game with five tackles.
“I came in just trying to make the big plays and play my last high school football game the best way I could,” he said.
Briskey will continue his football career at Miles, where he reports Aug. 10. Jackson will attend Jacksonville State on an academic scholarship.
“I’ve had fun in high school football, it’s great, but it’s time for me to better my life in something else,” Jackson said. “A lot of people want me to keep playing football, and it’s been in my mind, but I think it’s best that I get my books right and get done what I need to do.”
Former Wellborn wingback Chantz Goodman finished the game with 27 rushing yards. Former Panthers teammate Jaleel Burton made a tackle. Former Clay Central standout DeAndre Wills made a tackle, as well.
Former Woodland quarterback John Wes Adcock and former Piedmont star Denard Spears spent time at wide receiver, although neither caught a pass. Spears was a target several times, including being overthrown once in the end zone and having a pass intercepted en route to him in the end zone another time.