Tigers triumph over Titans 26-22

What a difference a week makes. Friday before last, the Jonesboro-Hodge football team was reeling from a disheartening Homecoming defeat that also dropped the Tigers to the cellar in district 1-2A play. Today the Tigers are sky-high after traveling to hight touted North Caddo in Vivian and coming away with a stirring 26-22 victory that has once again put visions of a district championship within reach. 

With the victory the Tigers improved to 7-2 on the year, by far the best year in head coach Terrance Blankenship’s nine year tenure while competining in Class 2A. Better yet J-H improved to 1-1 in district play, the same record that North Caddo has, who still has a very important district game to play when they end the year at D’Arbonne Woods, who is a surprising 2-0 in league play. A victory by North Caddo and a win by Jonesboro-Hodge over Lakeside gives JHHS, North Caddo and DWC 3-1 records with final standings being decided by the tie breaking formula set forth by the LHSAA.

The victory was also very important in Power Point rankings as JHHS leaped three spots from #8 to #5 taking the spot that North Caddo,  who is now 7th in the state had owned. In head coach Terrance Blankenship’s eye the triumph over the Titans was also one of the sweetest he has ever been associated with as a head coach.

“It has been a wild year for sure, especially now as we have gone from the worst loss I can remember to by far best win all in seven days,” laughed Blankenship after the game. “We played like we are capable this week and we had to as North Caddo is a very good team with a lot of talent.”

According to script: Blankenship warned his players before hand that North Caddo was unlike any team they had played all year and easily had more speed than anyone they had faced. Just two plays into the game theTitans gave JHHS a little proof of what he was talking about when 1000 yard gainer, K.J. Black, burst around the left side of the line and race untouched 55 yards to give the Titans a 6-0 lead with just 47 seconds off the clock. 

Tigers respond: It wasn’t quite as fast but after just five plays and 2:24 later the Tigers answered when Tydre Malone, who was under constant pressure from the stout North Caddo defensive line, scrambled to his right and lofted a perfect pass 47 yards down field that Devontae Mozee caught in stride before dragging two defenders the remaining five yars into the end zone.Chance Leonard’s XP attempt was blocked leaving the game tied. 

Miller Time: North Caddo wide receiver Omarrion Miller is rated as one of the top junior receivers in the nation. The LSU commit showed he is the “Real Deal” when on back to back plays to open the second quarter he reeled in passes of 33 and 34 yards, both times with Tigers hanging all over him. His second catch gave North Caddo a 14-6 lead.

Play of the game: North Caddo had beaten JHHS the last four time they played and looked primed to make it five straight as they moved to the Tiger two yard line with just 30 seconds left in the half. A Titan TD would be devastating to the Tigers morale but Mozee proved he is a “Prime Time Players” as well. The versatile senior stepped in front of a pass at the Tiger one yard line and outraced the entire Titan team 99 yards to paydirt to bring JHHS to within two instead of being down by two touchdowns. Tydre Malone sprinted around the right end to easily convert the two point conversion sending JHHS and North Caddo into the half tied.

“That play not only made the difference in that game but probably our season,” reflected Blankenship. “If they had scored just before the half to go up two scores, that would have made it very difficult for us. Instead we score to tie and get the ball first in the second riding that wave.”

Capatlizing on field position: JHHS started their first drive of the second half on the Titans  41 yard line. The Tigers moved the ball but got stalled on the North Caddo 17. A quick three-and-out by the defense set the Tigers up at the Titan 41 yard line again. This time it took only one play as Tydre Malone split the Titan rush and blasted upfield for the score to go up 20-14. It marked the first time in seven quarters of play that JHHS had led in a agme. 

Once again the Tiger D rose to the occassion and force a punt after only three plays. Actually it turned out to be a “throw” as the punter mishandled a bouncing snap and just picked it up and heaved it down field. The result was JH took over at the North Caddo 38 yard line. Five plays later, the M&M combinaiton struck again with Malone finding Mozee in the corner of the endzone for a 14 yard completion. Again JH failed to convert the point after but the Tigers now had a 26-14 lead.

Remember the Titans: JHHS was sky high but Omarrion Miller quickly brought them back to earth by taking the kickoff all the way to the J-H 12 yard line. The Tiger defense dug in and forced a 4th and 12 but with three players hanging all over him Miller wrestled in a TD pass. Another pass to K.J. Black for two points closed the margin to 26-22. 

Inch is worth a mile: Clinging to the four point lead and desperately not wanting to give North Caddo another chance JHHS was looking at fourth and an inch at their own 39 yard line with 1:32 left in the game. Make it game over. Don’t and North Caddo has only a short field to traverse. What to do? Go for it and make it – Game Over! Don’t make it and North Caddo has a short field to traverse. Punt? Miller was back there. 

Blankenship decided to go for it. Or at least it looked like J-H would. Instead with just one second left on the play clock, Malone went under center and gave a “hardcount” that worked to perfection as North Caddo jumped offsides giving J-H the first down and the victory. What would have happened if they hadn’t bitten onthe fake?

“Glad we didn’t have to find out,” grinned Blankenship. 

Just win baby! For the third straight game the Tigers got out gained by a wide margin and had less first downs. Still J-H has won two of the three and came within a penalty on a two point conversion from having a chance to win all three. How is that possible? 

“Naturally I would like to see us do better statistically,” said Blankenship. “Still I would rather let the other coach win the stats sheet as long as my guys win on the score board.”

Jonesboro-Hodge (7-2, 1-1) 6 8 12 0 26
North Caddo (6-2, 1-1) 6 8 0 8 22

Scoring Summary:

1st quarter: NCHS – Black 55 yd run (2 pt NG)
1st quarter: JHHS – Mozee 52 yd pass from Malone (XP NG)
2nd quarter: NCHS – Miller 34 yd pass from Thomas (Thomas 2-pt run)
2nd quarter: JHHS – Mozee 99 yard INT return (Malone 2-pt run)
3rd quarter: JHHS – Malone 41 yd run (XP NG)
3rd quarter: JHHS – Mozee 15 yd pass from Malone (XP NG)
4th quarter: NCHS – Miller 8 yd pass from Hodge (Hodge to Jackson pass)

1st Downs 10 12
Rushes/Yards 31 / 92 34 / 229
A-C-Yards 6-16-147 8-18-95
Total Yards 239 324
Penalties 6-41 8-52
Tuirnovers 0 1
3rd down conv. 4-15 2-12
4th down conv. 2-4 3-11

JHHS Offensive Game stats:

Passing: Malone 6-16-147, 2 Td’s, 
Rushing: Malone 17-75, 1 TD; Thompson 10-20
Receiving: Calahan 2-73; Mozee 2-67, 2TD’s; Thompson 2-7

JHHS Defensive Game stats:

Total Tackles: Atkins 17, Waters 8, Andrews 7, Chance Leonard 6, Smith 5, Mozee 5
Solo Stops: Atkins 14, Caters 5, Andrews 4, Chance Leonard 4
Tackles for loss: Atkins 2, Chance Leonard 2, Andrews 1
INT’s: Mozee 2 (1TD), Gray 1

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