The Golden Eagles kept up with Cleburne County (1-2) blow for blow and in the first half, kept alive by some fumbles and big plays of their own, but couldn’t keep pace in the second half.
“We started out 0-2, and our team had a lot of expectations,” said Cleburne County coach Michael Shortt. “And they still do, and we’re hoping that this win will give us that confidence. These kids are still 15, 16, 17-year-old kids, so their confidence level has been really low so we’re hoping this win will catapult us to do the things we know we’re capable of doing.”
The game’s wild momentum swings started early when Cleburne County’s John Butler punched one in to cap off a drive and put the Tigers up 14-7. Jacksonville’s Cordero Little would have none of it, however, and returned the resulting kick off for a touchdown.
Heflin would take the lead again on the resulting drive, going up 21-14, and looked to maybe take an even bigger lead into the half after a costly fumbled snap by Jacksonville. However, Cleburne County’s Rocky Hayes put the ball on the ground inside the redzone and Jacksonville recovered. A 73-yard quarterback keeper play Jacksonville’s Forrest Pearson would put the Golden Eagles in scoring position. They capitalized on it and went into the half tied up 21-21.
“(Hayes) is probably mad about that one turnover he had,” said Shortt. “We were looking at coming out 35-14 at the half, but it didn’t turnout that way because Jacksonville played a super hard game.”
Hayes took little time in making up for his fumble. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, he took a screen pass 60 yards, all the way down to the 10 yard line, setting up a Heflin score.
“Rocky is a great player, and he can make you miss,” said Jacksonville coach Roland Houston. “We’ve got to do a better job fundamentally as far as tackling. We made a few mistakes here or there defensively.”
Jacksonville, again, would answer back immediately with a drive of their own, capped off by a 2-yard quarterback sneak on the goal line, but missed the PAT to bring the score to 28-27. However, that was the last time moment would shift in the Golden Eagle’s favor. A field goal, a 72-yard punt return by Hayes and a Jacksonville fumble that lead to a Heflin score would put the game just out of reach of a Jacksonville comeback at 45-27.
“The second half we had some opportunities offensively that we missed on here or there,” said Houston. “But basically I thought we played well enough to win. If we had played any kind of defense we would have had a chance to win the ball game.”
Bobby Bozeman covers prep sports for the star. Follow him on twitter @Bozeman_Star.