Gant rushed for four touchdowns, threw a touchdown pass and recorded an interception on defense to lead the Hornets to a 60-31 win over the St. Joe Fighting Irish in Region 2-1A action. JFK improved to 6-2 with a 5-0 mark in the region, while St. Joe fell to 5-3 with a 3-2 mark in the region.
Every score Gant was responsible for was huge. Gant scored the first touchdown of the game to put the Hornets up 8-0. With JFK leading 8-7 still in the first quarter, Gant fired a 35-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Fleming with 5:38 on the clock to push the score to 16-7.
With St. Joe leading 31-22 in the third quarter, Gant put the Hornets on his back as he marched on touchdown runs of nine and 25 yards in the third quarter and 54-yards in the fourth quarter to put the Hornets on top 46-31 with 11:34 left to play. The Hornets never looked back after Gant’s final touchdown.
Gant ended up with 294 rushing yards on 18 carries and was 1-for-1 passing with 35 yards on the night. With the win, the Hornets currently have sole possession of first place in the region with three games left
“He put the weight of the team on his shoulders,” JFK head coach Sheldon Hodge said about Gant. “He refused to lose. We knew this game had championship implications, and we couldn’t let St. Joe walk out with the win and Carnez took charge along with Xavier Roberts.”
Gant said he knew he needed to be a leader in the second half.
“In the third quarter, I knew my team needed me so I had to step up and we came together as a team,” Gant said.
Gant was supported well on offense by running back Xavier Roberts and eighth grade running back Jacquon Hunter. Roberts made a big play on defense as he returned an interception 71-yards for a touchdown and Hunter scored the last touchdown of the night on an 18-yard run to make the final score 60-31. Roberts rushed for 98 yards with, a second quarter touchdown and three 2-point conversions on 13 carries, and Hunter who rushed for 37 yards with a score on five carries. Trevell Parris ran for two 2-point conversions, while Ladaris Johnson finished the night with a 2-point conversion.
Another phase of the Hornets’ game that was on fire was the defense. The gave up 385 yards of offense, but they had a bend but don’t break mentality. After St. Joe scored its third touchdown of the game on a three-yard touchdown run from quarterback Devonte McPherson with 10:47 left in the second quarter to cut JFK’s lead down 22-21, the Hornets’ defense tightened. St. Joe, thanks to the good work by the kicking unit was able to recover four onside kicks in the first half, but the Hornets were able to keep the game as St. Joe held a slim 24-21 lead going into halftime.
“We had to pull our original kickoff unit out and put our hands team in there and even then their scheme was a very good scheme,” Hodge said about St. Joe’s kicking game. “One we haven’t seen or worked against.”
The Hornets’ defense continued to stand tall as Fleming at defensive back intercepted two passes, while outside linebacker Damian Hodges kept going after McPherson and putting pressure on him. The Hornets’ defense was able to shutout St. Joe in the fourth quarter and hold them to only seven points total in the second half. McPherson ended up throwing for 293 yards with touchdowns and rushing for 86 yards with two more scores, but he threw four interceptions completed just 24-of-his 55 passes on the night.
“We bend a little bit but we managed not to break,” Coach Hodge said about his team’s defense. “It’s always a plus when you can keep a team out of the end zone. St. Joe has a fine football team and 31 points is a lot against a Mound Bayou defense.”
Hodges said he had to settle himself down in the second half.
“In the first half, I was trying to get to the quarterback and I couldn’t get to him,” Hodges said. “The coach told me to calm down and just play football. I just played and got to him.”
Fleming said the team as a whole was great at stepping up on defense.
“We had to push hard,” Fleming said. “Our defensive line had to come off hard and pressure the quarterback every play. We had to play hard and play good defense.”
JFK will return to the football field on Friday when the team hits the road to play McAdams.