Senior night for Jonesboro-Hodge High School saw the 16 Tigers give defending Division III Non-Select State Champion Many a strong battle that was a much closer game that the 38-6 final score would lead you to believe.
Playing their final regular season home game for JHHS was: Chance Leonard, Symeon Malone, Kalep Atkins, D’Marrian Thompson, Da’Marious Burns, Karmekizik Barber, Alfonzo Calahan, JaDarion Brown, Milton Campbell, Jaylin Barnes, Demerrius Jones, Braylon Leonard, Noah Lucas, Eric Hudson, Jordan Dill and Quirese Howard.
J-Hodge started the game well thanks to impressive efforts by several of the seniors. Burns took the opening kickoff to near midfield which led to a pair of first downs via the offensive production of quarterback Symeon Malone and running back Leonard.
The drive would bog down but the defense led by Lucas, Howard, Jones and Barnes held Many in check before the visiting Tigers finally willed their way into the end zone late in the first quarter to go up 7-0.
Keeping with the theme of stellar senior play, Malone immediately responded on the next J-H possession, connecting with Burns on a beautifully placed, back shoulder, long pass against the vaunted Many defense that saw the speedy receiver then turn on the jets for a 79 yard score. This was the second time this year that Malone and Burns paired up for a 75+ yard touchdown, the other being week four against Lincoln Prep.
The score stayed 7-6 until 2:05 was left in the second quarter, where in what seemed like déjà vu of the past couple weeks of play, the opposing Tigers scored two touchdowns before the horn sounded to signify halftime to take a 21-6 lead. Photo credit: Tony Valentino
A major factor of the huge momentum shift for Many, after struggling against JHHS for the first 22 minutes of the contest, was the insertion of Tylan Singleton into the offensive equation. The LSU commit, who checks in at 6’2″ 210 lbs and runs like a deer, scored both of the two TDs to give Many the 15 point lead at halftime.
Many’s continued to struggle against the JHHS defense for most of the third quarter, including being thwarted on a 1st and goal from the 4-yard line. that was when two JHHS underclassmen made their presence felt on senior night, with Landon Boston knocking the ball loose and Kyron Atkins jumping on it for a huge turnover.
J-Hodge took advantage by driving the ball to the Many 12 yard line with a combination of big passes and a pair of defensive personal fouls threatening to make it a one score game. Then the momentum that was solidly with JHHS dramatically shifted. With Malone attempting to hit Christian Palmer across the middle, Singleton made a leaping interception and raced 92 yards for a devastating touchdown that gave Many a 28-6 lead heading into the final quarter. The “pick six” goes down as the third longest interception return for a touchdown for an opponent in Tiger history.
Many, who dressed out more than twice as many players as J-Hodge and had no two-way starters, started to show their “fresh legs” in the fourth quarter. One “leg” that deserves mention is the right one of Deacon Lafollette who drilled a 45 yard field goal for Many’s final points, which also made the JHHS record books as the third longest by an opponent.
In summary, even though the final score was 38-6, it belies how really close the hard-fought battle was between the two teams. Nor does it give credence to the impressive effort displayed by the sixteen seniors and the JHHS squad against the 7th ranked Division III team in the state, who improved to 5-2 and 3-0 in district 3-2A play.
The Tigers (2-6, 0-3), will be on the road next Friday, October 27th against Lakeview (3-5, 0-3) as both look to earn their first district 3-2A victory of the year. Game time is set for 7:00 pm.