E.A. Sports Today

Cordova clips Golden Eagles

Efficient Blue Devils jumped on Jacksonville early, cruised to a 46-23 victory in Class 4A opening round

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Clint Smith was so hoping something good would happen for his Jacksonville football team early Friday night to swing momentum over to the Golden Eagles’ side in what he knew was going to be a tough playoff opener. It just never came.

Seventh-ranked Cordova converted three third-down situations in its opening touchdown drive and hit on the key down almost every time in the three quarters on the way to a 46-23 win in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs.

The Blue Devils (9-2), the No. 3 team out of Region 6, will play undefeated second-ranked Region 8 champion Rogers next.

Things went sideways in a hurry for the Golden Eagles (8-2). They lost a player on the opening kickoff then saw Cordova convert seven of 10 third-down situations through the first three quarters to open a 39-3 lead. And on two of the three it misses, it converted on fourth down – one for a touchdown.

Jacksonville’s only points of the first half came on Preston Harvey’s 35-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter.

“We needed something good to happen early,” Smith said. “We got them in third-and-long the first couple possessions of the game and they always seemed to hit that big play and just kind of took the momentum back. Any time we almost got some momentum they took it back. You never know what might have happened if we held them and forced them to punt.

“It’s about taking advantage of opportunities and I felt like Cordova did a really good job tonight of taking advantage. Any time there was a miscue I felt like they capitalized on it. They made plays when they had to.”

The 10th-ranked Golden Eagles, the No. 2 team from Region 5, scored all their remaining points in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard run by Taye Ackles, a 6-yard pass from Colton Clark to Ackles and a 2-yard run by Nico Richmond. Ackles had 50 yards rushing and Richmond had 92.

“This team has fought all year long; I knew we weren’t going to quit, that’s not our character,” Smith said. “They came back and fought the second half and that’s their identity.”

The Blue Devils amassed 467 yards of net offense, evenly divided between the run and pass. Javion Hill rushed for 141 yards and four touchdowns. Demetrius Kirk threw for 232 yards and a touchdown; every one of his completions went for more than 20 yards. And Kolbi Fuqua, a junior with offers already from Auburn and Ole Miss, caught four passes for 120 yards.

“As long as we can keep the chains moving we’re OK and I thought we did a pretty good job,” Cordova coach Jimmy Gay said. “We like to grind it out, that’s what we play for. I thought we were pretty proficient tonight. Our kids executed well, we just have to clean up the stupid mistakes.”

Despite the loss, Smith said this would be the winningest senior class to ever come through the Golden Eagles’ program. This year’s four-year seniors went 31-14. It matched the win total of the 1996-99 group (31-11), but this year’s seniors went to the playoffs all four years.

“One game doesn’t define this group,” Smith said. “They have a lot to be proud of.”

Cordova 46, Jacksonville 23
Cordova 6 26 7 7 — 46
Jacksonville 0 3 0 20 — 23

C – Javion Hill 4 run (pass failed), 7:23 1Q
C – Kolbi Fuqua 25 pass from Demetrius Kirk (Taj Woods pass from Demetrius Kirk), 9:04 2Q
C – Javion Hill 5 run (kick failed), 4:56 2Q
C – Kenderra Taylor 24 fumble return (kick failed), 3:55
C – Javion Hill 8 run (kick failed), 1:43 2Q
J – Preston Harvey 35 FG, 0:00 2Q
C – Cade Adkins 1 run (Gabriel Cordell kick), 2:44 3Q
J – Taye Ackles 5 run (kick blocked), 9:03 4Q
C – Javion Hill 22 run (Gabriel Cordell kick), 8:30 4Q
J – Taye Ackles 6 pass from Colton Clark (Preston Harvey kick), 4:40 4Q
J – Nico Richmond 2 run (Preston Harvey kick), 3:57 4Q

Team stats Cord Jax
First downs 18 17
Rushes-yds 45-235 36-155
Passes 8-12-0 11-23-0
Passing yds 232 117
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-1
Punts-avg 0-0 4-36.0
Penalties-yds 11-66 8-74

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