Friday’s homecoming game at Jacksonville began with a touchdown by sophomore Ron Wiggins on an 80-yard return of the opening kickoff and the Golden Eagles cruised past Loachapoka 38-10.
“It kind of set the tone. It got us off to a really good start,” Jacksonville head coach Clint Smith said of Wiggins’ dash across the Indians’ goal line.
Overall, the Eagles got scoring plays on offense, defense and special teams to build a 38-2 lead with 10 minutes still to play in the third quarter. Smith said adding the midseason game this year allowed Jacksonville starters an opportunity to get in work to maintain their timing and also gave reserves significant playing time in the second half.
“We did a good job controlling both sides of the line of scrimmage. We were able to break some big plays, played pretty well, played with some enthusiasm,” Smith said.
The non-region win over Loachapoka brought Jacksonville to 3-3 overall. The Eagles are 2-1 in Class 4A, Region 5 games. The remaining four games of the regular season are against Region 5 opponents.
“We’re getting to the home stretch. We’ve got Ashville, Oneonta, White Plains and Cherokee County for our final four games of the regular season,” Smith said.
Jacksonville travels to Ashville on Friday. Smith said the Bulldogs are led on offense by an experienced quarterback in senior Landon Cornutt, running back Ty Armstrong and a pair of 300-pound linemen. On defense, end Malek Williams returns for his senior season after giving Jacksonville a battle last year in a game the Eagles won 23-13 at home.
“The key for us this week is we’ve got to be strong. We’ve got to be tough up front. … It will be a tremendous challenge for our offensive and defensive lines to step up and control the line of scrimmage,” Smith said.
Against Loachapoka, Macey Carr’s 32-yard run with7:52 left in the first quarter made it 14-0. Three minutes later, the Indians got their only points of the first half on a safety when Jacksonville was flagged for holding in the end zone.
Tahj Kirkland scored on a 53-yard run just 13 seconds into the second quarter. Preston Harvey, who was 4-for-4 on extra points, kicked a 30-yard field goal with 8:23 left in the second quarter and Jacksonville led 24-2. Blake Morris recovered a fumble in the end zone for Jacksonville’s fourth touchdown with 3:21 still to play before halftime. At intermission, the Eagles led 31-2.
With 10:06 to go in the third quarter, Jewels Gray returned a punt 39 yards for Jacksonville’s second touchdown by its special teams and this time sophomore kicker Noah Sawyer booted the extra point. Loachapoka’s lone touchdown of the game came with 9:42 to play and the Indians ran for a two-point conversion.
Senior quarterback Colton Clark was 7-for-8 passing for 42 yards. Sophomore Luke Jackson was 3-for-4 for 11 yards. Gray caught four passes for 13 yards. Jaeden Barksdale had three catches for 21 yards. Jakobie Calloway made two catches for 17 yards and homecoming king Ben Patterson had one reception for two yards. Kirkland ran eight times for 106 yards. Carr accounted for 46 rushing yards on three carries.
Omarion Adams recorded five tackles to lead the defense. Morris, James Johnson, Josh Glass, Josh Bell and Billy Whitson made three tackles apiece. Patterson, Barksdale, Cam Parker and John Parrack each finished with two stops. Harvey, Joseph Bolton, Charles Cox, Quintin Davis, Cade Landers, Dreylan Fomby, Radanis Kirksey, Sam Tomlin and Karl Ragland each made one tackle.
Johnson and Adams each grabbed an interception. Bell had Jacksonville’s lone quarterback sack. Morris made two tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Parker, Bolton and Adams each made one stop for lost yards.