It was like the tale of two games last Friday night in J.Z. George’s road contest at Region 2-2A foe Eupora High School.
The first quarter belonged to the home-standing Eagles, who raced out to a 21-0 lead in the first 12 minutes. However, the remaining three quarters were tit-for-tat as the Jaguars held a 34-26 scoring advantage. In the end, though, Eupora came out on top 47-34.
“Eupora came out and scored 21 points in the first four minutes of the game,” said J.Z. George head coach Rusty Smith. “One of my rules is that if you miss practice and don’t have a doctor’s excuse or a good reason, then you have to sit out to start the next game. Jordun (Normal) missed Monday’s practice and had to sit out a series. We had a freshman at safety and Eupora must have seen it. They scored right off the bat.
“Yogi (D’Anthony McGlothan) started at quarterback, and we fumbled the ball on our second play and Eupora scored right after that. They got the ball back again and scored again. Four minutes in and we’re down 21-0. I didn’t call a time out, but we just kept playing and coaching the kids. We dug ourselves a hole, and we had to figure out how to climb out of it.”
The Jaguars punched the ball into the end zone twice in the second period and held the Eagles to one score to trail 27-12 at the half. Both teams scored one time each in the third quarter, but a two-point conversion by the Jags gave them an 8-7 advantage in the period. They still trailed 34-20 headed to the fourth quarter.
“We did so much stupid stuff. We’re determined to do it to ourselves,” said Smith. “We got lucky on our first touchdown when Jordun ran the opposite way and the wide receiver just happened to be wide open and scored. Then we ran a fake punt at our 25-yard line with Yogi back there, and he ran 75 yards for a touchdown.
“We showed we could move the ball on them. They never really stopped us, we did that to ourselves. As many mistakes as we had, we still made a game of it. They are not a better team than us. I’d definitely like to play them again if we could stop waiting until the second and third quarters to get going. I just can’t figure out why we come out flat to start games.”
The Jaguars went on to score two more times in the fourth period.
Normal, a junior, threw for 151 yards on 9-of-15 passing with the one touchdown, a strike to junior Ja’Ravion Seals, who finished with 44 receiving yards. Normal also ran for 35 yards and two scores on 14 carries.
McGlothan had a good game running with the ball as he amassed 120 yards on nine carries with one touchdown. On the defensive side of the ball, the junior defensive back had three solos, three assists and an interception. He had 21 yards receiving.
Senior Wil’Tavious Williams rumbled for 87 yards on 12 carries. He also threw a two-point conversion pass. Williams, who plays middle linebacker, had seven solos and an assist.
Senior running back Jacob Johnson ran for 17 yards and a touchdown on four carries. Johnson chipped in five solos and an assist on defense.
Junior receiver Alexander Criss had 85 yards receiving, and Lake Shute caught a two-point pass.
Linebacker Ken Head led the defense with seven solos and four assists. Shute had five tackles, and Ja’Darius Fluker had three solos and two assists. Seals had three tackles, an assist and a fumble recovery, and Alan Busby had three solos and one assist.
Nathan Carpenter, Thomas Perry and RJ Griffin had three stops each.
“Our kids never quit playing and didn’t give up,” said Smith. “We did much better against them in the spread formation. Jordun did a good job moving around against them. He understands what needs to be done, and Alex is coming on as a receiver. He’s just a junior, and it’s his first year to be out here.”
The Jaguars will be at home Friday night as they entertain region foe Bruce at 7 at Farris Jenkins Field for Senior Night.
“It’s kind of a bitter sweet moment cause I love playing on this team, and knowing this will maybe be my last time playing on our home field is kind of sad,” said Williams.
The Jaguars come into the contest with a 4-4 overall mark and a 1-1 record in Region 2 play. Bruce is 2-5 overall and 0-2 in district. Calhoun City leads the way at 3-0 (5-2 overall), and Eupora is 4-3 and 2-1 in league play. East Webster is 2-4 and 0-2.
“I’d say this is a must-win game for us,” said Smith. “If we’re going to make the playoffs, we need this game. Depending on what team shows up for us will determine how this game goes. If we come out and play from the first whistle, I feel like we can do pretty well against Bruce.”