E.A. Sports Today

More than a milestone

Jacksonville gives coach Smith his 100th career victory, clinches second spot in region in the process

Jakobie Calloway (9) goes up for Jacksonville’s go-ahead touchdown right before the end of the first half. On the cover, Macey Carr (25) rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns to help coach Clint Smith score his 100th victory. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Clint Smith was appreciative of and humbled by his 100th career coaching victory, but he was absolutely ecstatic for what it represented.

Jacksonville gave its head coach his milestone victory Friday night in a 45-21 win over Cherokee County.

But there were so many things that made it special.

To see a photo gallery from the game visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

Most importantly it clinched the No. 2 seed from Class 4A Region 5 and a home playoff opener in two weeks. The Golden Eagles bounced back from adversity in the form of a 14-0 first-quarter deficit; they scored 45 straight points. And it was their seventh straight win after an 0-3 start.

“It was the 100th win, but it was a playoff home-field advantage-clinching win that our kids have worked hard for and fought for,” Smith said. “We came out a little slow, but I was really proud of our guys how we settled in and just kind of took it to them.

“Going into the playoffs now that’s going to be crucial, learning when something doesn’t go right, fighting through that adversity, how to be able to come back and handle that, and I thought our kids did that.”

The 100 wins have come over 16 years as a head coach at Trinity (19), Saks (38) and Jacksonville (43).

Speaking of adversity, running back Macey Carr bounced back from fumbling his first carry — Jacksonville’s first snap of the game — to rush for 210 yards and two touchdowns. The senior is going to the playoffs for the first time in his career that has spanned three schools — Donoho, White Plains, Jacksonville.

Rontarius Wiggins rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter and finished with 110 yards in the game.

After putting it on the ground on his first carry, Carr scored the Golden Eagles’ first touchdown on a 1-yard run and broke off a 48-yard scoring run between Wiggins’ two scores.

“I was pretty mad about (the fumble) because I felt like I could have done better,” Carr said. “My teammates came up to me and told me what I needed to do and I just bounced back and did what I had to do.”

Jacksonville’s early deficit was a product of giving Cherokee County a short field to work with early in the game. Carr’s fumble set up the Warriors (4-6) on the plus side of the 50 and a short punt after a bad snap on the next possession did likewise.

It took the Golden Eagles the entire half to overcome it. They finally took the lead – for good – when Colton Clark hit Jakobie Calloway with a 27-yard pass 37 seconds before halftime.

Meanwhile, the Jacksonville defense held the Warriors to five yards net offense the rest of the half after the 14-0 lead. Josh Glass led the defense with 10 tackles. Blake Morris had seven tackles. Ben Patterson and Omarion Adams each had six tackles and combined for seven tackles for loss.

“This defensive effort tonight was great,” Glass said. “It seems like we’re getting better every week. That’s the best defense I’ve seen the corners play here at home in a long time.”

“Once we settled in to what we knew how to do we finally started playing our ball,” Patterson said. “Once we found a defensive set that we could stay in it worked for us. We went back to a normal defense and that covered the sneaky back and everything and brought the right amount of pressure to the quarterback.”

The Golden Eagles were going to be in the playoffs – for the fifth year in a row — regardless of the game’s outcome, but a loss could have sent them on the road in the opening round. Now, as the region’s No. 2, they will host Randolph (6-2) in their playoff opener. That’s a big incentive.

“We knew we were going to be in, but if we lost this we were going to be the fourth seed and we’d have to play a No. 1 and we’d be on the road,” Patterson said. “Being a senior knowing you’re going to have to be on the road somewhere and might not play another home game, that was just crush me. But we started getting back and I was like we’ve got it know, we’re settled in.”

[table id=83 /]

Cherokee County 14 0 0 7 — 21
Jacksonville 0 17 21 7 — 45

C – Tyren Dupree 26 run (Gustav Jensen kick), 8:17 1Q
C – Sidney Perry 28 run (Gustav Jensen kick), 4:52 1Q
J – Macey Carr 1 run (Preston Harvey kick), 10:57 2Q
J – Preston Harvey 38 FG, 7:32 2Q
J – Jakobie Calloway 27 pass from Colton Clark (Preston Harvey kick), 0:36 2Q
J – Rontarius Wiggins 36 run (Preston Harvey kick), 9:49 3Q
J – Macey Carr 48 run (Preston Harvey kick), 5:24 3Q
J – Rontarius Waggins 56 run (Preston Harvey kick), 0:38 3Q
J – Jakobie Calloway 56 punt return (Preston Harvey kick), 11:07 4Q
C – Kendrick Fife 9 run (Gustav Jensen kick), 2:19 4Q

Omarion Adams (12) and Jakobie Calloway put a big hit on a Cherokee County ballcarrier. Jacksonville’s defense didn’t allow much the rest of the half falling behind 14-0, giving their team the chance to regain the lead by halftime. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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