E.A. Sports Today

More happy returns

Adams last-minute kick return lifts Jacksonville to first-round playoff win over Jackson

Omarion Adams races towards the end zone to score the last-minute touchdown that gave Jacksonville its playoff win. (Photo by Greg Warren)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Omarion Adams looked at the scoreboard clock behind him, saw there might only be 83 seconds left in his high school career and told himself he needed to make a play.

And, as the Jacksonville Golden Eagles have come to expect, he did to save the season.

Adams raced 45 yards with a free kick following a safety to put Jacksonville ahead and Taj Morris burrowed in for the two-point conversion to give the sixth-ranked Golden Eagles a 27-24 win over Jackson in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs Friday night.

Jackson, which bused more than four hours from South Alabama for the game, took 24-17 lead — its first lead of the game — on a touchdown early in the fourth quarter that capped a 16-play, 89-yard drive.

The Aggies stopped the Golden Eagles without points from inside the 20 for the third time in the half when they knocked down a fourth-down pass from the 15 with 3:05 to play. They took the safety after losing 17 yards on a botched snap that sent them back to the 1 with 1:35 to play.

The safety came as Garrison Holly danced along the back of the end zone to milk a clock that didn’t move as the play unfolded instead of punting. It made the score 24-19.

Jackson was offsides on the first free kick, which allowed the Golden Eagles to reposition Adams on the opposite side of the field for the re-kick. The Aggies popped up the kick in Adams direction and the senior with the Chucky alter ego weaved through the coverage for what proved to be the winning touchdown.

“It’s my last year,” Adams said. “I just kept looking at the clock and it said a minute, 23 and I said I’m not going out like this. So, my nickname is ‘Playmaker P’. Guess what happened? I made a play.

“This might be my last game so why not do something special? I did something to prevent it (from ending).”

“Anytime he touches the ball he’s got an opportunity to make something special happen,” Jacksonville coach Clint Smith said. “I tell everybody, just about everywhere we go, when he goes on the field, he’s the best player on the field.”

Adams scored the Golden Eagles’ first touchdown of the game on a 39-yard pass from Jim Ogle. He caught five passes for 47 yards.

“He’s just an incredible athlete,” Ogle said. “Everything he does is just … I’ve never seen anything like it. Just the things he does it just comes so easy to him. It’s just crazy.”

Without Adams’ return, the Golden Eagles (7-3) would have lamented not cashing in on several opportunities in the red zone.

They got to the 5 on the opening possession of the second half and missed a field goal. Their next possession reached the Aggies 9, but they lost two yards on fourth-and-2, and then there was that fourth-down pass from the Aggies 15 late in the game.

And while not in the red zone, the Golden Eagles fumbled a kickoff after making Jackson re-kick it following its touchdown with 55 seconds left in the half. The Aggies took the break a kicked a field goal on the last play of the half to take a 17-17 tie into the break.

“We left some points out there; we’ve got to get better at that,” Smith said. “We’ve got some playmakers and we made plays when we had to. That’s the bottom line, when we had to do it we did it. They just never doubted.”

The Aggies could feel the same way. They had a chance to extend their lead in the fourth quarter when Jamaal Pritchett returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown only to have it negated by an illegal block.

“We just had too many mistakes there at the end,” Jackson coach Cody Flournoy said.

Ogle couldn’t have been hotter as a passer. He completed his first 15 passes into the third quarter and his only potential miss in the run was negated by a pass interference penalty. He finished 19-of-23 for 195 yards.

“He made me so happy; he was doing great,” Adams said. “I told him you’re the leader of the team, you’re the quarterback, you have to be the leader – and he led us.”

The Golden Eagles now travel to Alabama Christian (9-2) for their second-round game.

Jacksonville 27, Jackson 24
Jackson                   0   17  0   7   –   24
Jacksonville          10  7    0   10 –  27

Jv – Mason Terrell 22 FG, 5:28 1Q
Jv – Omarion Adams 39 pass from Jim Ogle (Mason Terrell kick), 1:01 1Q
J – Garrison Holly 1 run (Jeramie Houston kick), 6:45 2Q
Jv – JaeTaj Morris 14 run (Mason Terrell kick), 2:35 2Q
J – Garrison Holly 1 run (Jeramie Houston kick), 0:56 2Q
J – Jeramie Houston 22 FG, 0:00 2Q
J – Jamaal Pritchett 3 run (Jeramie Houston kick), 10:35 4Q
Jv – Safety, Garrison Holly runs out of end zone, 1:20 4Q
Jv – Omarion Adams 45 kickoff return (JaeTaj Morris run), 1:10 4Q

Jac (6-5)Jville (7-3)
111st Downs17
175Passing yds195
4-37.7 Punts-avg1-37.0
JaeTaj Morris gets into the end zone for a two-point conversion that gave Jacksonville a 27-24 lead in the final minute of its playoff game with Jackson. (Photo by Greg Warren)

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