Jacksonville scored two touchdowns in 2:31 early in the third quarter and the Indians then doubled Athens, 34-17, in front of a strong homecoming crowd at the Historic Tomato Bowl on Friday night.
The game was the 9-4A-I district lid lifter for both teams, who are now 2-3 overall.
With the score tied 10-10 to start the final half, Jacksonville needed just six plays to go 51 yards to pay for the dirt, which came in the form of a touchdown pass from 11 yards from Ryan McCown to Jermaine Taylor. Taylor then led Jacksonville on the reception with three catches for 37 yards.
After Jesus Nunez’s kick after touchdown, the Tribe took a 17-10 lead with 9:31 left in the third segment.
Nunez had a perfect night for the Indians, going 4-for-4 on point after touchdown attempts and scoring two field goals.
After a three and on Athens’ first possession in the second half, Jacksonville settled on the Hornets 20-yard line, following a 30-yard punt return by Devin McCuin, who was crowned king of the return during a pre-match ceremony. .
On the third play from scrimmage, Ryan Walker came in from seven yards out, giving the Tribe a 24-10 advantage.
The Hornets came back into the game when Jorien Ray caught an 8-yard strike from Ty Arroyo with 51 ticks left in the third period. The touchdown play capped off an impressive 15-game drive that lasted just over six minutes. The march started at the Athens 25 meter line.
Jacksonville recovered those points in their ensuing possession when Jwaylon Kennedy fed from 17 yards with 10:21 left in the game.
Kennedy led Jacksonville in rushing (16 carries for 84 yards) for the second straight week.
The Indians recorded a huge gain on the Hornets’ first drive game that followed. That’s when Koda Canady, who made a verbal commitment to Lamar University, offered the first of what would be two fourth-frame interceptions for the senior.
Jacksonville’s practice began at the Athens 25-yard line, and on the sixth play of the progression, Nunez netted a field goal from 25 yards to extend the Indian lead to 34-17.
Jacksonville’s first points of the night came with 2:16 left in the opening stanza when Nunez made a 35-yard field goal.
With the Hornets ahead 10-3, McCuin returned an 81-yard kickoff for a touchdown, leading the teams to the locker room at the break with 10 points apiece.
Other defensive stars in the tribe, aside from Canady, were Michael Miles, Trent Powell and Cash Bearden.
Jacksonville head football coach Jason Holman has said all week that his team should establish the run first, and they’ve more than done just that. In fact, of the Indians’ 255 total yards, 169 were by land, while 86 by air.
Jacksonville will travel to Kilgore next week for a date with the Bulldogs. Kilgore (2-3, 1-0) beat Palestine 32-0 to open the league game on Friday.
In the other game involving district teams, Lindale kept Henderson winless by winning 44-17 on Friday. Chapel Hill had the night off.