E.A. Sports Today

Saks gets back at Jax

Wildcats need one play to score in OT, then make a big defensive stand to avoid losing to their former coach

Kaynan Mays (9) returned an interception for a touchdown in the first half and made the fourth-down stop in overtime that preserved Saks’ victory. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By East Alabama Sports Today

On a night when a lot of things didn’t go particularly well for Saks, the Wildcats turned in what coach Jonathan Miller called “one of our best defensive series of the night” when they needed to have it the most.

The Wildcats shot themselves in the foot so many times Friday night, it’s a wonder they had any toes left. But in the defining moment of the game – fourth-and-2 from inside the 5 … in overtime … with the lead – Kaynan Mays stopped Josh Glass to preserve the Wildcats’ 34-27 win over Jacksonville.

“Sometimes you’ve got win those type games,” Miller said. “Good learning experience for us. We shot ourselves in the foot repeatedly throughout the game. We did about everything we could do … badly.”

Jacksonville, looking to give coach Clint Smith his second win in a row over his former team, went up 10-0 early, but then had to rally from 10 points down with five minutes left in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Colton Clark threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Glass and Preston Harvey kicked a 23-yard field goal with six seconds left to send the game into overtime.

The Wildcats went first in the extra period and wasted no time grabbing the advantage as Johnathon Cobb darted into the end zone on the first snap.

Now it was up to the defense to hold it.

Macey Carr, who was brilliant in the first half, gained two yards on Jacksonville’s first play. Jakobie Calloway caught a shuttle pass for three more and Carr ran for one. That left fourth-and-4. Saks jumped offsides moving the ball to the 2 and then Mays stepped in to stop Glass and end the game.

Mays also returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give the Wildcats a 20-17 halftime lead.

“When they got the ball everybody on defense locked in,” Saks linebacker Darien Briskey said. “We all had the same motivation – we wanted to stop them there. All the linebackers stepped into the right gaps, the secondary stepped in the right gaps, we kept outside containment and … I saw Kaynan come up the middle and blow up the play.

“Everybody loved it. That was a payback game. It was a big game. Went into overtime. There was a lot of emotion. People were crying. People were jumping. I even saw Coach Miller jump.”

Jacksonville rode the shoulders of Carr in the first half. He rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries in the half, but Saks held him to only four yards in the second half and overtime.

Clark was 13 of 24 passing for 127 yards. Jewels Gray caught six passes for 63 yards.

The loss left Jacksonville 0-3 for the first time since 2002.

“It was a big win for us,” Briskey said. “They were a team that was down 0-2 already on the season and they came out hungrier. I felt like they came out hungrier than us at first and we had to fight adversity and get our heads back into the game so we could come back and win it.”

On the cover: Johnathon Cobb (3) put Saks ahead on the first snap of overtime and his defense made it stand. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Saks 34, Jacksonville 27 (OT)

Jacksonville 10 7 0 10 0 — 27
Saks 7 13 7 0 7 — 34

J – Macey Carr 56 run (Preston Harvey kick), 10:56 1Q
J – Preston Harvey 27 FG, 6:46 1Q
S – JaDarris Griffin 29 run (Anthony Cornejo kick), 3:21 1Q
J – Macey Carr 57 run (Preston Harvey kick), 9:21 2Q
S – Will Fletcher 16 run (kick failed), 5:12 2Q
S – Kaynan Mays 20 interception return (Anthony Cornejo kick), 4:19 2Q
S – LaDerrick Bell 30 run (Anthony Cornejo kick), 1:37 3Q
J – Josh Glass 21 pass from Colton Clark (Preston Harvey kick), 4:39 4Q
J – Preston Harvey 23 FG, 0:06 4Q
S – Johnathon Cobb 10 run (Anthony Cornejo kick), OT

Jacksonville’s Macey Carr (25) had a big first half, but Saks shut him down in the second. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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