E.A. Sports Today

J-Money, indeed

Auburn commit Lewis scores every which way to help Anniston rally from behind, power past scrappy Wellborn, 38-22.

Cover photo: Anniston’s Jayden Lewis makes an interception that he returned 95 yards to help Anniston even up with Wellborn at halftime Friday at Anniston. The Bulldogs went on to win 38-22. (Photo by Greg Warren/For East Alabama Sports Today)

This week’s scores

Thursday, Aug. 24
Ohatchee 32, Saks 8

Friday, Aug. 25
Cherokee County 48, Alexandria 14
Anniston 38, Wellborn 22
Weaver 40, Donoho 13
Handley 22, Valley 8
Jacksonville 43, Boaz 21
Jacksonville Christian 48, Tuscaloosa Christian 32
Lincoln 31, Talladega 7
Childersburg 28, Munford 22
Oxford 33, McAdory 23
Ranburne 31, White Plains 28
Guntersville 14, Southside 10
Spring Garden 48, Sand Rock 22
Wadley 35, Horseshoe Bend 7
Westbrook Christian 42, St. John Paul II 27
Woodland 38, Victory Christian 7
Central-Clay 21, Cleburne County 7 (Jamboree)
Pisgah 33, Glencoe 21 (Jamboree)
Piedmont 14, Fyffe 14 (Jamboree)
Randolph County 34, Fayetteville 0 (Jamboree)
Collinsville 7, Pleasant Valley 6 (Jamboree)
Hokes Bluff 7, Pleasant Valley 0 (Jamboree)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

Jayden “J-Money” Lewis’ decision to stay at Anniston when other teammates followed a coach elsewhere came

“I didn’t want to go nowhere,” Lewis said. “This is my home. This is my community. I’ve got to give back.”

The Auburn commit gave and gave and gave Friday, scoring four touchdowns nearly every way possible as Anniston rallied from behind in the first half and rode him to a 38-22 victory over Wellborn at Lott-Mosby Stadium.

Lewis scored on an 83-yard punt return, 95-yard interception return, 85-yard kickoff return and 30-yard catch-and-run off of a quick screen that saw him elude half of Wellborn’s defense before turning down field.

He also added two conversion runs and a fumble recovery.

Primarily a defensive back and kick returner who plays spot duty on offense, Lewis kept Class 4A seventh-ranked Anniston above water against 3A unranked Wellborn.

“He’s unbelievable,” first-year Anniston coach Rico Jackson said. “That’s the only word I got. It is what it is. There’s a reason he’s going to Auburn, and he’s proving it.”

Asked which play amazed him most, Jackson couldn’t choose.

“All of them,” he said. “I can’t pick one.”

It took everything Lewis could do for Anniston to keep Wellborn at bay.

As he did last year at Wellborn, Lewis scored the game’ first points on a return. His 83-yard punt return and conversion run put Anniston up 8-0 at 3:55 of the first quarter, but Wellborn answered. Carlos Hubbard’s 64-yard kickoff return set up Jabari Williams’ 8-yard touchdown run, and Kyle Bright’s conversion catch tied the game at 2:54.

Williams’ 52-yard touchdown romp and Bright’s conversion run put Wellborn up 16-8 at 7:33 of the second quarter, and Wellborn threatened to score again, just before halftime. Noah Screws lobbed a fourth-down pass down the middle as Bright started to break right, and Lewis ran under it at the 5-yard line.

Lewis turned up field, vectored through traffic and broke past the last defenders near midfield. He finished off the 95-yard return for a touchdown, and Gavin Doss added the conversion to tie the game with 57.3 seconds left in the half.

“It was just playing ball, reading the play, doing what I do,” Lewis said. “Just being a ball player and taking it to the crib.

“I knew the team needed that, so I gave it to them.”

Anniston was due to receive the second-half kickoff, and Lewis gave the offense extra time off, romping 85 yards on the return. Doss’ conversion run made it 24-16 at 11:20.

The Bulldogs quickly made it a 32-16 game, recovering a Wellborn fumble to set up Doss’ 2-yard keeper and Lewis’ conversion run at 8:27.

Anniston would need to withdraw more J-Money, however, when Screws threw over the top to Brennan Talley, who got behind Anniston’s defense for a 48-yard touchdown to bring the Panthers within 32-22 after a failed conversion.

This time, Lewis scored on offense. He caught Doss’ receiver screen, worked laterally while evading tacklers along the 30-yard line then turned downfield to open grass. That made it 38-22 with 9:18 to play.

“He’s a fantastic player,” Wellborn coach Jeff Smith said. “He scored on a kickoff, a punt, an offensive touchdown and an interception. Unbelievable.”

Lewis’ signature game keyed Anniston on a night when Wellborn played well enough to beg the question, would the Panthers have won, but for Lewis?

“We lost by 16, and a lot of it is our fault,” Smith said. “Listen, he is a fantastic player, but our problem was we let him get to it. We should’ve just kept the ball from him any way we could’ve.”

Wellborn’s Jabari Williams’ finishes off his 52-yard touchdown run, which gave the Panthers a 16-8 lead over Anniston in the second quarter Friday. (Photo by Greg Warren/For East Alabama Sports Today)

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