Jacksonville grabs district win

by Arron Swink Contributing Writer

The Jacksonville Fightin’ Indians took care of business on Friday night in a must-win game, topping the Hallsville Bobcats 28-15 to spoil HHS homecoming and grab their first victory in District 9-5A-Division II play.

Jacksonville had very few problems with the conditions on a rainy night and playing on turf that appeared to be at least 15 years old. While fans may have expected the Tribe to keep the ball mostly on the ground to compensate for the weather and the surface, JHS was actually able to sustain a fairly balanced attack – amassing 336 total yards of offense on 56 plays. The Tribe tallied 195 of those yards through the air and 141 on the ground.

It was the Indians’ air attack that struck first. Junior quarterback Patrick Clater connected with wide receiver Tyrese Gibson from nine yards out at the 6:59 mark of the first quarter. Alejandro Pina-Sanchez added the extra point to put the visitors on top, 7-0, for a lead that would last the rest of the evening.

Hallsville deployed an extremely one-dimensional offensive approach as the ‘Cats relied almost exclusively on the legs of sophomore quarterback Carter Rogas. Rogas found the endzone twice in the contest with the first coming with 5:06 to go in the opening quarter. His four-yard touchdown sprint went unconverted as Will Parsons’ pass attempt was incomplete off of a botched play.

Clater continued to share the wealth for the next JHS score. He dropped back and found senior University of Colorado commit Chris Carpenter for a five yard strike barely two minutes into the second quarter. Pina-Sanchez booted true once again to increase the Blue and Gold advantage.

Clater and Carpenter were not finished displaying their connection. The pair linked up again for an exciting thirty yard house call 1:37 before the halftime buzzer. The Tribe took a commanding 21-6 lead into the locker room.

Due to the conditions, the halftime festivities were minimal as the bands did not perform and only the Hallsville drill team, with over 100 alumni in attendance, took the field.

The early part of the second half brought the last spark of energy from the Bobcats in a game that was otherwise dominated by Wayne Coleman’s Indians. After a beautiful Bobcat punt pinned the Tribe at their own 1-yard line, Clater attempted to hand off straight ahead to running back Aaron Richardson. Unable to get enough push, the J’ville offensive line was overwhelmed and Richardson was taken down in the endzone for a safety at the 10:50 mark of the third quarter.

Trailing 21-8, Hallsville showed some fight for the remainder of the third quarter, which was capped off by Rogas toting 14 yards for a score. Bobcat kicker Buck Buchanan added the extra point and the home team closed the gap to one score, at 21-15, with: 13 left in the third.

Not to be outdone on the ground, Clater added the exclamation point to the Tribe’s first district triumph by sprinting 31 yards to paydirt with 2:13 left in the game. Pina-Sanchez ended the night perfectly, nailing one more PAT to set the final margin of victory.

Kenny Canady’s Tribe defense shined on Friday night, allowing only the two Rogas touchdowns while scooping up a fumble and hauling down an interception.

The Tribe will bring its winning momentum back to the historic Tomato Bowl this Friday night to entertain the Mount Pleasant Tigers. The Tigers and Hallsville both remain winless in district play. While Jacksonville no longer controls its own destiny with regard to a playoff berth, a win at home would keep the Indians mathematically alive in the hunt for the postseason.
JHS fans can listen in to all the action on JHS-Sports.com. The Countdown to Kickoff begins at 6:45 p.m. with kickoff set for 7:30.