The Hornets had beaten the Jaguars for the past three years. The biggest thing about Friday night’s ball game at Lit Parker Evans Field is that there was a lot at stake,h especially for the Jaguars. The winner would win Region 2-1A. If JFK lost, the team would still host a playoff game next week. If Broad Street lost, the team was looking at being on the road as possibly a four seed.
The region showdown turned out to be a classic battle between two strong defenses. When the night came to a close, the Jaguars were able to get over the hump and beat the Hornets for the first time since 2009 with a 14-8 victory. The win, more importantly, gave the Jaguars (8-2, 7-1 reg.) their first region championship since 2000 when the team was competing in Region 3-2A. JFK fell to 8-3 with a 7-1 mark in the region.
“We’ve been fighting for this for a long time,” Broad Street head coach Damaris Mitchell said. “I’ve been head coach for eight years. I think we’ve had three or four second place finishes, and we were always one game away from winning that district championship. My hats off to the club and the coaching staff. We came together as a team both the players and the coaches.”
Mitchell said the team played with a determination to prove its critics wrong.
“Everybody has always said that every game that we’ve won was a fluke,” Mitchell said. “They took that to heart. The defense put that challenge on their backs. We played a very good football team and did a very good job.”
Broad Street had to come-from-behind in the second half as the team trailed 8-6 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Broad Street’s defense made a big play as JFK quarterback Ladaris Johnson fumbled the football with Broad Street’s Johnny Scott recovering the fumble. The Jaguars, at close to midfield, got their offense going as Richard Horn was able to charge on a long 45-yard run on second down to get the Jaguars at the JFK five-yard line. The Jaguars were able to get down to around the two-yard line, but the Hornets stood tall as Damian Hodges and Octavius Taylor tackled Jags quarterback Jarvaris McClenton on fourth down to force a turnover on downs. The Hornets’ ended up getting the ball at their own three-yard line.
The Jaguars’ inability to score on the play didn’t discourage them as their defense manned up. With 3:15 left to go in the third quarter, Broad Street’s Devonte Brown was able to tackle Xavier Roberts in the end zone for the safety.
The Jaguars and Hornets forced each other to punt on the next couple of possessions. With less than five minutes left in the game, Broad Street received JFK’s punt and was able to get the ball at the 50-yard line. McClenton got the drive started with a 15-yard run to get the ball to JFK’s 35- yard line. The Jaguars then went to Horn as he carried the ball four straight times to get the ball at the eight-yard line. After Demarcus Alexander marched on a six-yard run, the Jaguars were able to hit pay dirt as McClenton galloped on a two-yard TD run with 2:47 left in the game. The two-point conversion was no good, but Broad Street led 14-8.
The John F. Kennedy Hornets tried to make one more strong push as they went on an eight play drive, but they couldn’t put any points on the board as the Jaguars were able to run down the clock and give the packed house in Shelby something to cheer about.
The Jaguars drew first blood in the first quarter as McClenton galloped on a one-yard touchdown run with 1:33 left on the clock to give the Jaguars a 6-0 lead. The Hornets were able to get on the board in the second quarter as Johnson connected with Ricky Fleming on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 6:39 left in the first half. Roberts scored the two-point conversion to put the Hornets on top 8-6. The Jaguars made their share of plays in the first half. Traterrious Britton recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass, while Lamarcus Phillips intercepted a pass to help keep the Jaguars in the game. Before halftime, Roberts intercepted a pass for the Hornets to keep the game at 8-6 when the half concluded.
“We came out and there were times were we didn’t hold on to the ball and when we did it was unfortunate that we were struck with penalties at inopportune times,” JFK head coach Sheldon Hodge said. “In a nutshell, we just didn’t get the job done.”
Horn was Broad Street’s leading rusher as he racked up 127 yards on 16 carries.
McClenton rushed for 65 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries and completed 1-of-6 passes for 15 yards to aid Broad Street, followed by Alexander with 46 yards on 10 carries.
Johnny Scott led the Jaguars’ defense with 10 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery to lead Broad Street’s defense, followed by Britton with four tackles a fumble recovery and a interception, Alexander with six tackles and Lamarcus Phillips with an interception.
JFK’s Carnez Gant led the Hornets’ rushing attack by running for 120 yards on 12 carries, but he was not able to hit the end zone. Johnson completed 4-of-10 passes for 65 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions to aid the Hornets, followed by Fleming with a 25-yard TD reception and Roberts with 28 rushing yards on 12 carries with a 2-point conversion.
Both teams will be competing in the 2A State Playoffs next week. JFK, a No. 2 seed, will host Falkner in Mound Bayou, while Broad Street, a No. 1 seed, will host Hamilton in Shelby Friday night. Kickoff for both games is set for 7 p.m.