Indians play final game of season Lindale Eagles defeat Indians 36-34

by By Aaron Swink Contributing Sports Writer
Courtesy Photo Courtesy Photo

By Aaron Swink

Contributing Sports Writer

The Jacksonville Fightin’ Indians came into Friday night’s season finale playing for pride at Lindale’s Eagle Stadium. Already eliminated from playoff contention, the Tribe mustered all their effort into giving the home team, who clinched second place in the district, all they could handle. Ultimately the Eagles prevailed, barely edging Jacksonville by a score of 36-34.

Both teams showcased their defensive prowess in the first quarter, slugging it out in a scoreless frame. The Eagles would get on the board first in the second quarter when their big, imposing quarterback Dillon Heinaman showed surprising quickness to dash thirty yards for the first score of the game at the 5:55 mark of the quarter. Lindale’s Colton Brown added two points with a run, giving the Blue and White the 8-0 lead.

The Indians answered almost immediately, as Chris Carpenter added to his highlight reel which began last week. At the 5:40 mark of the second, the Tribe speedster gathered in Landon Love’s kickoff at the two-yard line. A few juke moves later, Carpenter was celebrating a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown with his teammates. Alejandro Pina-Sanchez’s extra point brought the Blue and Gold within one point, 8-7.

The ensuing Lindale possession was interrupted in spectacular fashion by Jacksonville’s Steve Gallegos. The senior defensive back stepped right in front of a Heinaman screen pass attempt, snatched the ball out of midair and darted untouched 48 yards for the score, the second non-offensive tally for JHS in less than a minute. Pina-Sanchez’s PAT was true, putting the visitors on top 14-8 with less than five minutes to go before halftime.

Jacksonville would prove it could score in all phases of the game before time expired in the first half. Junior quarterback Tristen Shewmake led his team all the way down to the Eagles’ one-yard line before plunging into the endzone himself. Senior Pina-Sanchez stayed perfect on the night as the Indians expanded their advantage to 21-8.

A defensive stop before halftime would have secured most, if not all, of the game’s momentum for Jacksonville. Heinaman, however, had other plans as he showed his versatility by uncorking a 20-yard strike to receiver Brennan Moore only six seconds before the buzzer. With Landon Love splitting the uprights, the Jacksonville lead was shaved to 21-15 as the teams headed for the locker rooms.

Lindale would not waste the momentum it found at the end of the first half. Less than a minute into the third quarter, Heinaman connected with Brown for the go-ahead score. Love’s PAT put the Eagles up, 22-21, and the home team would not trail again.

Heinaman extended the lead to 29-21 midway through the quarter, hitting Dylan Worrell for a six-yard score at the 5:22 mark. Love’s extra point was true again.

Shewmake clawed the Tribe back into the proceedings just before the end of the third quarter when he connected with Joydasion Thompson from nine yards away. Shewmake attempted to take the two-point conversion in himself, but his run failed, leaving the score at 29-27 in favor of the Eagles.

The Heinaman-to-Brown show had one final act, as the pair hooked up for the final Lindale score of the evening, an 11-yard strike. Love stayed perfect, giving the Eagles their final total of 36 points.

Jacksonville battled up until almost the final whistle. Shewmake found sophomore receiver Jaylon Freeney with an 11-yard touchdown pass with 59 seconds remaining. Pina-Sanchez also finished his night perfectly, adding the Tribe’s final point.

Despite the team falling just short, Jacksonville fans can be proud of the effort their team displayed Friday night and all season long. Now the focus shifts to next season, when the Fightin’ Indians will open the newly-renovated Tomato Bowl against Class 4A powerhouse Carthage.