Tigers wallop Class 5A West Ouachita 41-20 in emotional home opener

The contest started with a stirring tribute to the two fallen Tiger teammates who tragically lost their life earlier this summer. In the end,the 41-20 victory over Class 5A West Ouachita was a tribute to the hard work that Jonesboro-Hodge has put in to give indications that this may be one of the strongest JHHS squads to compete since the new millennium.

“I can’t say enough of how proud I am of the guys for the way they channeled their emotions to give honor to their teammates,” said Tiger head coach Terrance Blankenship. “Hopefully our team will recognize that if we play with this kind of intensity every game we have the potential to have a special season.”

Hours before the contest, the atmosphere at Caldwell-Peacock was turbo charged with emotion. It began with one of the larger crowds in recent memory filing in early to show support to the families of former players LaJavion Nichols and Javious Holden. Adding to the excitement was the presence of KTVE-Channel 10 on site well before the game, filming footage in preparation of a featured segment for that would be highlighted in their Friday night football show that would air later that night.jhtribute

Just before the opening kickoff and with the entire Tiger team, visiting West Ouachita and fans on both sides of the field standing in tribute, the Nichols and Holden family were presented game balls. The feeling of solidarity and unity in sharing the grief by the team, school and community then reached a fever pitch minutes later through a touching balloon release into the evening sky.

Click here for link to KTVE feature on the Tigers: https://www.myarklamiss.com/sports/emotional-night-at-jonesboro-hodge-rivalry-renewed-at-bill-ruple-stadium-arkansas-scores-and-much-more-from-week-two-of-football-friday-night/

Ultimate honor! The Tigers then gave their fallen teammates the ultimate tribute by putting on an exhibition that hasn’t been seen at Caldwell-Peacock stadium in years. The result was a thorough domination of the Class 5A school that resulted in bringing back memories from decades ago of the “glory days” of Tiger football to the many long suffering fans.

“It’s been a long time since I can remember feeling so good after a game,” said an elated fan following what is believed to be the first victory over a Class 5A team at home in school history. “This brings me back to the day when we used to expect this kind of outcome.”

Quick start! The Tigers got off to a quick start thanks to the generosity of West Ouachita. After being stymied on their opening possession the Chiefs gifted J-H with tremendous field position by sailing a snap over their punters head that finally was tracked down at the West Ouachita 11 yard line.

“With the way our guys were charged up following the tribute, we felt like we had a good chance to get off to a good start,” reflected Blankenship. “You never expect to receive a break like that, though.”

The Tigers quickly capitalized on the first of what would be six Chief miscues on the night by scoring in just two plays. Ed’Trayvious Drayton burst up the middle for ten yards followed by quarterback Tydre Malone plowing into the endzone to give J-H an early lead. Sullivan Stephens booted the extra point and just like that the Tigers led 7-0 with just a little over two minutes gone in the game.

Reality check! Stunned by the sudden deficit, West Ouachita quickly regrouped to embark on a 5 play, 62 yard drive that was climaxed with a 36 yard ramble into the endzone by scatback Nick Hall. The converted extra point kick tied the score at seven each with 7:20 left in the first quarter.

“At that point I felt like we were going to be in for a dogfight,” recalled Blankenship. ‘Our guys proved that they weren’t going to be denied on this night though.”

Concentration! After the two teams swapped possessions the Tigers quick strike offense drew blood again on a three play drive that covered 54 yards. The big play came when Malone spotted wide-out, JaMarriyae “Jay” Lewis streaking down the sideline and breaking into the clear. Malone rocketed a pass that traveled 50 yards in the air that Lewis first bobbled into the air and then corralled while laying on his back at the one yard line. Malone again did the honors on the next play to give J-H the lead again at 13-7 with 3:57 to go in the first quarter.

Merry Christmas! West Ouachita played Santa Claus once again by putting the ball on the turf on their next possession. The Tigers pounced on gift at their own 44 yard line and just four plays later the lead was stretched to 19-7 when Brantrell Thompson burst through a hole on the left side and sprinted 39 yards to pay-dirt.

Thanks again! Javion Andrews recovered the third West Ouachita fumble and second in two consecutive possessions at the Chief 42 yard line. Thompson, who rushed for 109 yards on 15 carries scored his second touchdown from 12 yards out and with Malone connecting to Justin Calahan for the two point conversion, JHHS extended the lead to 27-7 with still 9:40 remaining in the first half.

Rout is on! Less than a minute later the Tigers struck again. This time it was the defense effort of DeVontae Mozee who stepped in front of a pass on the left sideline and cruised into the end zone. Malone ran in the two point conversion and suddenly JHHS was in firm control at 35-7 with 8:46 to go in the half. 

Record achievement! Mozee put the finishing touches on the special night by taking a second West Ouachita pass to the house This one was a 50 yard TD return with 1:47 left to go in the game that tied him with Ron’Donovan Lewis (2020) and Arnold Mathews (1945) in the all- time, JHHS record book for most interception returns for a touchdown in a single game.

West Ouachita (1-1) 7 7 0 6 20
Jonesboro-Hodge (1-1) 19 16 0 6 41

Scoring Summary:
1st quarter: (JHHS) Malone 1 yd run (Steven kick)
1st quarter: (WOHS) Hall 38 yd run (Cobb kick)
1st quarter: (JHHS) Malone 1 yd run (XP no good)
1st quarter: (JHHS) Thompson 39 yd run (2-point no good)
2nd quarter: (JHHS) Thompson 16 yd run (Malone to Calahan for 2-pt)
2nd quarter: (JHHS) Devontae Mozee 40 yard INT return (Malone 2-pt run)
2nd quarter: (WOHS) Hall 6 yd run (Cobb kick)
4th quarter: (WOHS) Nolan 1 yd run (XP no good)
4th quarter: (JHHS) Mozee 50 yd INT return (XP no good)

Yardstick WOHS JHHS
First Downs 13 16
Rush / Yards 47/218 27/119
Passing (A-C-Yards) 5-11-104 13-24-157
Total Yards 322 276
Time of Possession 39:07 38:07
Turnovers / lost 6/4 1/1
Penalties / Yards 6/47 7/54

JHHS Individual Stats
Passing: Malone 13-23-157 0, 0
Rushing: Thompson 15-109 – 2TD; Drayton 4-19; Malone 8-(-9) – 2TD, 1 F
Receiving: Calahan 4-44; Leonard 4-26; Lewis 3-77; Mozee 1-12; Thompson 1-(-2)

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