E.A. Sports Today

JCA wins in OT

Messer’s touchdown in overtime lifts Thunder to its second straight win

By East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Jacksonville Christian’s defense capped its best game of the year with a goal-line stand in overtime and Walker Messer’s 10-yard reverse on the ensuing possession lifted the Thunder to a 28-22 region victory over Gaylesville Friday night.

The Thunder (3-2) overcame a lot of adversity to post its second straight win and even its 1A Region 7 record at 2-2. It’s the earliest in the season they’ve had three wins or been above .500 through five games since 2010.

They fell behind early, saw a 14-point lead disappear in the fourth quarter and may have lost their quarterback for an extended period.

Gaylesville (0-6, 0-3) opened the scoring on a 9-yard Derek Hill run and Brandon Barnes conversion, but the Thunder roared back and took a 22-8 lead in the third quarter behind Reed Murphy and quarterback Jayden Mitchell.

Murphy rushed for 201 yards and two touchdowns in the game. Mitchell rushed for 27 yards and a touchdown and passed for 61 yards before leaving with a knee injury in the third quarter.

Senior D’Andre Garner, who missed two days this week because of illness, replaced Mitchell for the remainder of the game and did what coach Tommy Miller called “an adequate job” in an emergency situation. Mitchell was set to be reexamined this morning and Miller said he would have to “evaluate the whole situation” before determining the position’s future course.

“When Jayden went out, a school our size, when you only have six or seven on the sideline, you don’t have the luxury of getting a backup quarterback ready, so when he went down that was a big blow,” Miller said. “D’Andre stepped in and really did an adequate job.

“We couldn’t do the things we could with Jayden in there, but he did an adequate job and we were able to score with him in there. That was a pleasant surprise Andre stepped up like he did.”

Gaylesville got the ball first in overtime and reached the JCA 4, but on fourth down Hill tried to sweep for the score was tackled by for a loss by eighth-grade defensive end Antwon Fegans.

The Trojans stopped JCA’s first overtime play for no gain, but were surprised by Messer’s reverse and he scored untouched. The overtime touchdown was his only rush of the game.

“They really had the momentum and emotion going into the overtime and I felt we stepped up on the defense,” Miller said. “We have not been stopping people but we were able to stop them some tonight. That overtime period was so big for our defense to step up like they did. Even though they scored 22 points I felt it was the best defensive game we played all year.

“And when we got the ball (in overtime) I felt like we could kick a field goal inside the 10 if we didn’t get the touchdown, but we had set things up for that play. It worked out that we got the touchdown.”

JCA 28, GAYLESVILLE 22 (OT)

Gaylesville 8 0 0 14 0 — 22
JCA 0 8 14 0 6 — 28

G — Derek Hill 9 run (Brandon Barnes run), 9:10 1Q
JCA — Jayden Mitchell 1 run (Mitchell run), 10:47 2Q
JCA — Reed Murphy 24 run (Josh Thornton kick), 8:59 3Q
JCA — Murphy 2 run (Thornton kick), 3:25 3Q
G — Hill 5 run (Hill run), 9:11 4Q
G — Austin Slayton 15 run (conversion failed), 4:51 4Q
JCA — Walker Messer 10 run (no PAT), OT



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