Fantastic Finish! Tigers rally for victory over Franklin to earn semifinal berth

There are games and then there are games. Some are even special games. Then there are the tiny few in the history of a program that are  games such as Jonesboro-Hodge’s stirring 29-28 come from behind victory over Franklin in the LHSAA Class AA Quarterfinals.

Those are the ones that are remembered forever by the special play or event that took place like “The Pass” (JH vs Springhill-1987) or “The Interception” (JH vs Bunkie – 1988). You can now add “The Drive” to the list. 

It was a game for the ages that was topped off in exhilirating fashion for Tiger fans by an incredible 14 play, 98 yard drive for a touchdown with just 36 seconds left in the game. The score narrowed the 28-13 second half deficit the Tigers faced to only 28-27 with an all important decision awaiting.

Would head coach Terrance Blankenship kick the extra point to tie or go for the win with a two point conversion attempt. There was really no doubt in Blankenship’s mind but the decision was made easier when Franklin jumped offside to move the ball to only a yard and a half out. 

“There was no doubt that after we made that score we were going for the win instead of playing for a tie,” said Blankenship. “First of all we were on the road and secondly I didn’t want to see their quarterback anymore.”

J-H lined up in it’s “jumbo” package, where they put lineman Cartavious Waters in the backfield as a fullback. Senior QB Tydre Malone, who had a tremendous game iwth two TD’s passing and two TD’s running took the snap and burrowed in for the two points setting off a mad celebration in the stands and along the sidelines. 

“This has been a special season for our team as they have had to overcome many very tough things that were thrown at them,” said Blankenship.  “This game was an example as it seemed like everything that could go against us did but guys just refused to let the season end.” 

Tigers have multiple lives!  It is said that a cat has nine lives. This Jonesboro-Hodge Tiger team used up 15 or so just in this one game – but they prevailed. Example: Nine times Franklin fumbled , eight times the ball bounced right back to them, even twice on one play. JHHS fumbled twice and lost them both as the ball hit a players pad and bounded far away. 

Three times in the fourth quarter, Franklin started drives inside JHHS territory, incluidng twice inside the Tigers 25 yard line. A touchdown would have won it for Franklin on any one of the drives. On the first drive, JHHS forced a punt. The Tigers fumbled the return setting up Franklin at the JHHS 24 yard line. JHHS held on 4th down and took over at their own five yard line. Three and out set up a Tiger punt that went all of 15 yards giving Franklin another close shot, this time at the JHHS 20 yard line. Once again JHHS held on downs setting up the game winning drive. 

A tale of two quarterbacks! JHHS head coach Terrance Blankenship was told before the contest that Franklin quarterback Zylan Perry was a special talent. The versatile athleted that runs a legitimate 4.44 in the 40 yard dash proved his worth and then some.

“That kid is one of the best athletes I have ever had to try and stop,” said Blankenship. “After it is over, I will still say try and stop because we didn’t come close to that, maybe slowed him down a little at the end of the game.”

Perry rushed for 131 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns and threw for 137 more and another score. It wasn’t so much the yards he made but how he made them. Time and again, the Tigers would have the elusive speedster in their grasp only to see him do a magic act Two of the scores came on fourth down where Perry simply improvised to make the play for the score. 

JHHS has a good quarterback as well. Actually according the Tiger all time record book and after the game Friday, you should classify Tydre Malone as great. It was his poise and leadership on “The Drive” that led to two fourth down pass play conversions. It was also his pocket awarenes when after looking for a receiver he took off and ran it all the way to the two yard line. Malone also ran in a pair of toucdowns but also passed for two more. One was on the first drive of the game on a 36 yard completion to Chase Leonard and the other a 43 yard strike to Devontae Mozee. 

The victory improved the Tigers record to 11-2 on the year. It isthe first time since 1993 that a Tiger team has won 11 games in a seaosn and will play in the semi-finals for the first time since 1990. Standing in the way for a trip to the dome for the Class AA state championship is #6 Amite, who upset #2 General Trass by a score fo 20-2 and will host the Tigers this Friday night. 

#7 JHHS (11-2) 7 6 8 8 29
#15 Franklin (8-4) 16 6 6 0 28
1st quarter

Scoring summary:
1st quarter: JHHS – Leonard 36 yd pass from Malone (Leonard Kick)
1st quarter: FHS – Perry 64 yd run (Perry to Johnson pass)
1st quarter: FHS – Alexander 3 yd pass from Perry (Perry run)
2nd quarter: JHHS – Malone 5 yd run (run failed)
2nd quarter: FHS – Perry 21 yd run (run failed)
3rd quarter: FHS – Gray 5 yd run (run failed)
3rd quarter: JHHS – Mozee 43 yd pass from Malone (Thompson run)
4th quarter: JHHS – Malone 2 yd run (Malone run)

First downs 17 15
Rushes / Yards 30 / 132 32 / 156
Passing (A-C-Yards) 16/23 – 203 9/20 – 137
Turnovers / lost 2/2 9/1
Penaties / Yds 10 – 67 8-51
3rd down conv. 2-14 3-11
4th down conv. 4-4 4-9

JHHS Individual Offensive Stats:

Passing: Malone 16/23-203, 2 TD’s
Rushing: Malone 17-77, 2 TD’s; Thompson 13-55
Receiving: Mozee: 5-82, 1 TD; Calahan 6-65; Leonard 3-55, 1TD; Thompson 2-1

JHHS Indvidual Defensive Stats: 

Total tackles: Atkins 10, Jones 10, Waters 9, Leonard 8, Lewis 8, Andrews 7, Smith 7, 
Solo tackles: Atkins 9, Waters 9, Lewis 6, Andrews 4, Jones 4
Sacks: Waters 1, Andrews 1
Tackles for loss: Waters 3, Andrews 2, Drayton 1, Smith 1
Interceptions: Mozee 1

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