The Junior Jackets returned to action last Thursday night and it was obvious the week off gave them a renewed spirit and intensity. They took apart a Flintville Middle School team that is leading their conference in Lincoln County 44-6. The win gives the Junior Jackets a 4-2 record as they prepare for “Eighth Grade Night” tonight at Chris Pickett Stadium in their season finale against Whitwell Middle School.
The Jackets turned two Flintville turnovers into a quick 14-0 lead. On the fourth play of the game Bailey Hill forced a fumble that was recovered by Kase King on the Bobcats 31. On the first play, quarterback Jaden Ruehling connected on a 31 yard touchdown pass to Jordan Hackworth and Gavin Tate’s conversion run gave the home team a quick 8-0 lead.
On Flintville’s next possession, the Jackets forced another fumble when Dray Wise jarred the ball loose from their running back and Josh Childers recovered at the Jacket 40 yard line. Tate ran around left end and down the sidelines to the Bobcat two yard line before he was spun down out of bounds. Hackworth took the next carry into the end zone. The two point conversion pass was incomplete and the Jackets led 14-0.
The next possession for the Bobcats didn’t end in a turnover, but the visitors ill-advised gamble at their own 27 put the Jackets in business once again in the first quarter. Four plays later Hill took the hand off and scooted around the right end to pay dirt. Ruehling this time hit big Thaddaues Blackburn for the conversion and the Jackets had raced out to a 22-0 lead after one quarter.
Flintville finally got in the scoring column on a 56 yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. The conversion run failed and Grundy County’s lead was 22-6.
The Jackets turned the ball over on the first play after the Bobcats’ score, but held and took over at the Bobcat 41 when Holden Hargis through the Bobcat QB for an 11 yard loss. Three plays later QB Ruehling called his own number, swept around right end and sprinted untouched to the end zone to put the Jackets back up by three scores. Hackworth added the conversion and it was 30 ¬ 6.
The Jacket defense once again turned the ball back over to the offense as they stopped the Bobcats on downs. After an ineligible man down field penalty moved the Jackets back five yards, Hill playing quarterback hit a streaking Ruehling down the sidelines to put the Jackets up 36-6 at the half. The conversion run failed. With the touchdown catch, Ruehling pulled off a feat rarely accomplished at any level of football. He threw a touchdown pass, ran for one, and caught a touchdown pass all in one half.
The second half started much like the game did. On the first play from scrimmage, Tate pulled away from the defense and scampered 52 yards for the final TD of the night. King added the two point conversion run and the hosts had a 44-6 lead.
The continuous running clock rule was in effect and the game ended rather quickly when quarters are only eight minutes long to begin with.
Offensively, Tate had 122 yards on only five totes. King had 61 yards on five carries. Ruehling and Hill both had touchdown passes.
Defensively, Walt Jones, Wise, and Hill each had seven stops. Childers added six tackles, while King and Hackworth had four each.
Head Coach Derryl Graham had this to say about the game. “Our boys played really hard and the big thing was they came back after the break and had fun playing the game. The break was needed. Our boys were tired. They had been working hard since late June. A lot of young players got a lot of playing time, which is really good for next year. Our kids played a great game in honor of assistant coach Will Land. He is joining the army and has worked with the program for the last two years and has done a good job coaching our linebackers and offensive line.”
Coach Graham looked ahead to tonight’s game with Whitwell. “We are trying to close out our season at 5 ¬ 2 and undefeated at home. This will be the third season in a row that our program has had a good season. Our goal is to build a good foundation for our high school team. It will be eighth grade night and we have 22 kids playing their final game.