Fumble Returns Give Jackson 40-28 Win Over Clarke County

September 4, 2017

Jackson turned a 13-7 halftime deficit around with three fumble recoveries for touchdowns as the Aggies defeated Clarke County 40-28 in the ALFCA Game of the Week.  It was Jackson’s 10th straight win over Clarke County.  The last Bulldog victory over the Aggies was in 2007.

Clarke County Coach Stacy Luker said earlier in the week that the first thing the Bulldogs needed to do was to get the game to halftime.  They did more than that, running 33 plays to Jackson’s 11 in the first half.  The Bulldogs controlled the ball in the opening half (they had 237 yards rushing for the game) and threatened to extend the lead just before intermission.  But the Aggie defense rallied with a goal line stand, stopping Clarke County with a fourth and goal from the six.  Jackson had scored earlier in the half on a 75 yard pass from Cooper Christian to Nehemiah Pritchett.  Christian scrambled on a 3rd and 13 and found a wide open Pritchett behind the Bulldog defensive backs.  It was Jackson’s only offense of the first half.

“I told the guys at the half that we had made exactly two plays so far,” Jackson Coach Danny Powell said. “We hit the long TD pass and we made one stop on defense. We were lucky to be down one score. We needed to take advantage of that coming out, and thankfully we did.”  On the first series of the second half, Christian connected with Pritchett again for a 27 yard touchdown pass and the Aggies suddenly led 14-13.

Halfway through the third quarter Jackson’s KenShaun Pritchett scooped up the first Bulldog fumble and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown.  The Aggies had a 21-13 lead and a big momentum swing. “Turnovers and penalties,” said first-year Bulldogs coach Stacy Luker. “You don’t beat good teams with those things. You don’t usually see three scoop and scores, but they had them tonight.”

But good teams do change momentum with big plays.  Clarke’s Will Foreman busted a 53 yard touchdown run and then converted the 2 point play to tie the game 21-21. Foreman led all rushers with 30 carries for 193 yards. But with 2:30 left in the wild third quarter, Jackson’s Jalem King recovered a fumble and rumbled 40 yards to give the Aggies the lead for good at 27-21.  In the final quarter Nykendrick Jackson caught a TD pass from Christian and Jalem King returned another fumble 40 yards for a TD.  Clarke County scored late to bring the final to 40-28.

“I thought we controlled the first half and some of the second, but we played behind the chains too much,” said Luker. “We gave up a fourth-down touchdown in the second half when it was a six-point game and we needed the ball back. When championship teams get down, they always respond and that is what Jackson did. I have a lot of respect for Danny. We’ll just go back to work and get ready for next week.”

Coach Powell was pleased with his team’s second half effort. “Our kids just seemed dazed in the first half. It seemed like they weren’t into it. We talked to them a bit and told them to step up and grow up and some of them responded. I really didn’t know if they would. I couldn’t tell by the looks on their faces, but they did.”

Both teams open region play this week with Jackson visiting Faith Academy and Clarke County hosting Bayside Academy.