Tigers lose 35-26 to Amite in Class AA semi-finals

An old adage says all good things must come to an end and by virtue of the 35-26 loss to Amite in the Class AA semi-finals so does the Jonesboro-Hodge Tigers football season. It was a good season. No correct that. It was a GREAT season. In fact, the best campaign the Tigers have enjoyed in over 30 years that unfortunately came up just one game short of their hoped for goal of playing for the state championship. As result, the district 1-2A tri-champion, Tigers, ended the year with a fine 11-3 record that saw many individual records set along the way while Amite moved on to play Many for the Class AA title this coming Friday.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda! The Tigers had their chance to advance. Several of them in fact but in the end they fell short. One can lookback and think of several missed opportunities. There was the wide open touchdown reception just before the half that fell harmlessly to the ground. That was followed by a 70 yard pass and run by the Warriors that instead put Amite up. Another score in the second half by the Tigers was negated when it was ruled the receiver didn’t get his foot inbounds despite video evidence showing that he did. Finally there was a holding call that called back a third score after J-H had mounted a last ditch effort for their second rally in as many weeks.

“We should have won this game,” said Tiger head coach Terrance Blankenship after the game. “We had our shot but just didn’t get it done. The loss should take nothing away from the really good effort our guys put forth though. They had a great year and I just wish it could have ended better for them. ”

Great beginnings! At the onset it looked like J-H would waltz their way into the title game, even after a punt hit a Tiger to give Amite two chances before JHHS even touched the ball on offense. Five plays into their first possession the Tigers struck paydirt when Tydre Malone connected with Devontae Mozee for a 70 yard score. Chance Leonard’s extra point made it 7-0 with 5:54 to go in the first quarter. After Amite missed a field goal on their next drive the Tigers went right back to work, this time driving 81 yards in just 7 plays that cumulated with Malone finding Javion Andrews in the end zone for a 19 yard strike. The attempt for two came up just short. It would be an omen for what was to come.

Amite attack! Back-to-back possessions by Amite found the score suddenly tied at 13 setting up the first of the deadly mishaps that shaped the game. The Tigers had responded by taking the ball to the Amite seven yard line when a disputed delay of game penalty was called on JH, putting the ball back to the 12 yard line with 2:33 left in the half. Still the Tigers looked to overcome the penalty but the wide open receiver dropped the ball in the end zone giving Amite the ball back 2:20 to play before intermission. Four plays later disaster struck when 6’5” Ja-Vay Gilmore caught a pass over the middle and broke several tackles on the way to a 71 yard score that gave Amite a 21-13 lead with just .40 seconds left in the half.

Second half surge! The Tigers started the second half much like they did in the first as Malone hit a streaking, Mozee for a 52 yard TD that brought the Tigers to within two. Amite came right back to score to go up by 28-18 but the Tigers dynamic duo answered the bell again this time for 46 yards as J-H once again drew within two points.

Back breaker! With momentum back on their side and trailing only by a 28-26 margin the Tigers looked to bottle up the explosive Amite offense on their next possession. Instead the Warriors pint sized but fleet of foot tailback, Korrill Mearridy, broke down the sideline and ran through multiple tackle attempts for a jarring 60 yard score that put J-H down by nine again.

Rally try! Still the Tigers refused to die. After a stirring 10 play 73 yard drive, Malone and Mozee connected for the fourth time but this one didn’t count as the Tigers were flagged for holding. Undaunted the Tigers came right back. After finally holding Amite, Jay Lewis rushed in and blocked a punt that saw the Tigers capitalize on by moving to the two yard line. A highly disputed illegal motion penalty set the ball at the seven setting up another near TD that was ruled incomplete.

Record setting efforts! Several single game records fell during the contest. Tydre Malone, who already had broken virtually every single season and career passing record in Tiger history continued to re-write the annals by virtue of his 312 yards passing which set a new single game high. His 26.0 yards per completion average also set a new all-time single game mark for more than 10 passes thrown in a contest.
With his 188 yard effort, Devontae Mozee is the new all-time single game receiving yardage holder, eclipsing by three yards the mark held since 1997 by Thyron Anderson and his three scores moved him into a tie for third for single game scores. Mozee is also the new single season reception yardage leader with 876 yards breaking Deondre “Dre” Hall’s mark of 769 set in 2018. Finally Mozee etched his name as the all time single season receiving touchdown leader with 17 breaking the mark of 13 formerly held by Stevie Anderson that was set in 1987 and career touchdown receptions with 21 career tallies.
Xavier Atkins had already set a new single season school record for total tackles and solo tackles which he added to and Peyton Smith moved into second place all time for tackles by a defensive lineman. No game or final year end defensive stats were available at time of press.

#7 JHHS 7 6 13 0 26
#6 Amite 0 21 14 0 35

Scoring summary:

1st Quarter: JHHS – Mozee 70 yd pass from Malone (Leonard kick)
2nd Quarter: JHHS – Andrews 12 yd pass from Malone ( run no good)
2nd Quarter: AHS – 7 yd run (kick good)
2nd Quarter: AHS – 8 yd run (kick no good)
2nd Quarter: AHS – 71 yd pass (two point run)
3rd Quarter: JHHS – Mozee 52 yd pass from Malone (pass no good)
3rd Quarter: AHS – 10 yd run (kick good)
3rd Quarter: JHHS – Mozee 46 yd pass from Malone (Leonard kick)
3rd Quarter: AHS – 60 yd run (kick good)

First Downs 20 19
Rushes / Yards 24 / 60 39 / 189
Passing (A-C- Yards) 12-24-312 8-14-164
Total Yards 372 353
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties / Yards 7 / 60 4 / 48
3rd down conv. 5/12 5/13
4th down conv. 1/4 0/5

JHHS Individual Offensive Statistics

Rushing: Thompson 17-62; Drayton 3-11; Malone 14 – (-13)
Passing: Malone 12-24-312, 4 TD’s
Receiving: Mozee 4-188, 3TD’s; Calahan 3-23; Lewis 2-72; Andrews 2-15, 1 TD; Leonard 1-15

JHHS Individual Defensive Statistics:

not available

Photo’s courtesy of Jason Strickland

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