Bayou Jamb organizers couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the first of the four contests played Saturday at Raymond Malone Stadium on the campus of the University of Louisiana-Monroe. The 14-13 Jonesboro-Hodge victory over St. Frederick High School in Monroe was certainly worth the price admission.
To sum it up, the “shortened” game lasted only two quarters but there were enough emotional twists and turns that had to be survived to last a season. What was supposed to be a glorified scrimmage ended up being a wild roller coaster ride that one minute had a team flying high and the next groveling in despair.
Jonesboro-Hodge head coach Terrance Blankenship was hoping to see a better version of Tigers than he had witnessed the week before in the controlled scrimmage against Cedar Creek. At the beginning of the game it looked like not only had the Tigers not progressed they looked worse.
Quickly JHHS fell behind thanks to a first series fumble that gave St. Fred’s great field position that the Warriors took full advantage of by scoring in just four plays. To their credit the Tigers regrouped and rebounded thanks to an aggressive defense that forced two straight interceptions that JHHS turned into touchdowns to take a 14-6 lead into the first break. Both teams looked rather lackluster in the second half when with under two minutes left to play suddenly the emotional lid of the game was blown off.
St. Fred’s was facing third down and lofted a pass down the left sideline. A Tiger defender was in perfect position to grab the Tigers third interception of the game but the St. Fred receiver pushed him away and came down with the disputed completion at the Tigers seven yard line. A following burst up the middle narrowed the margin to one point. Bummer!
The Tigers were obviously down after the turn of events but once again JH regrouped and snuffed the two point conversion attempt turning the frowns on the players faces into high fives as the lead was preserved. Happy times were here again! There was now only 1:46 remaining on the clock and J-H was going to receive the kickoff. Certainly St. Frederick would attempt an onside kick which the Tiger coaching staff attempted to prepare the players for.
Money in the bank, right? Oh no. Not on this day. Again the roller coaster went into motion and again the Tigers emotions went spiraling downward. Incredibly St. Frederick’s recovered the attempt setting them up at the Tiger 48 yard line. Two completed passes and an offside penalty against JHHS later, the Warriors were looking at a first and goal from the Tiger 7 yard line with 34 ticks remaining on the clock. Momentum was totally with the Warriors now and JHHS seemed to be faltering badly. What was worse is that St. Frederick didn’t have to score a touchdown as they had one of the better placekickers in north Louisiana at their disposal if needed.
JHHS sophomore linebacker, Xavier Hearne, would have no part of that scenario though. First, Hearne pressured Warrior QB Garrett Taylor into an errant throw then planted him for a 12 yard sack that moved the ball back to the JHHS 19 yard line. Still it looked bad as St. Fred was still well inside their kicker’s range who with only 23 ticks left lined up what would be the game winning shot.
The snap was good and the kick strongly sailed away. From the sideline it looked like it was going to be good but fortune stayed with the Tigers as the ball “slipped” just outside the left goal post preserving the Tiger’s Bayou Jamb victory. Even if the field goal would have been good, JHHS head coach Terrance Blankenship was pleased with the Tigers effort.
“I was concerned at first but as a whole we looked a lot better today than we did last week,” said Blankenship. “We still have a lot of things to correct before this Friday but I was pleased to see the progress that was made.”
The concern was warranted as JHHS received the opening kick of the game and promptly fumbled it away at their 30 own yard line after only three plays. St. Frederick ran three plays of their own before Taylor found Thomas Marsala across the middle to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead after the ensuing PAT.
On the next possession Brantrel Thompson gave the Tigers a little spark with a couple of nice runs but the Tiger drive stalled forcing a punt. The Warriors once again took to the air but this time Chase Leonard tipped the ball at the line. Devontae Mozee corralled the floater at the St. Fred 45 yard line and sprinted down the left sideline to paydirt bringing JHHS to within 7-6 with 4:12 remaining in the first half.
Mozee would score again 52 seconds later thanks to the quick reaction of cornerback Justin Calahan who intercepted the second St. Fred aerial on the first play of their next series setting JHHS up on the Warrior 30 yard line. Tiger QB Tydre Malone wasted no time in making St. Fred pay as he launched a beautiful pass up the seam to Mozee who had split two defenders and caught the pass in stride as he crossed the goal line. Thompson ran the 2 point conversion in giving the Tigers the 14-7 advantage that stood up until the final minute of play. By virtue of his two touchdown effort, Mozee was named Bayou Jamb Player of the Game for Jonesboro-Hodge, resulting in him receiving a $250.00 scholarship from Academy Sports in Monroe.
To report an issue or typo with this article – CLICK HERE