East Jessamine Coach Michael Bowlin didn’t know if his 4-2 Jaguars were for real or not heading into Friday night’s game against Madison Southern.
“I told you you didn’t prove anything the last two weeks,” Bowlin said in the postgame huddle about their two-game win streak. “You proved something tonight, baby!”
The Jaguars (5-2) got their second District 7 win, 49-35, over the visiting Eagles (3-4) in a game that featured loads of offense and a few key turnovers.
“I know we’re going to see those guys again in the playoffs, so that’s a big win, a big confidence booster,” said Jaguars quarterback Turner McHolan, who ran for three touchdowns and threw for another. “That’s a big win against a good team.”
For a while, it seemed neither team could stop the other as each exchanged a pair of TDs on their early drives. But Madison Southern was able to force a Jaguars punt in the second quarter and later gained an extra possession when they recovered an onside kick at midfield.
A holding call looked to have stymied the Eagles’ momentum, but quarterback Tobias Storm hit Walt Smith on a 66-yard TD pass to put Madison Southern up by two scores, 28-14, with 8:02 left till half.
East Jessamine responded with a methodical drive downfield capped by a 9-yard TD pass from McHolan to Dylan Moore to cut the lead to 28-21 at 3:16 in the second quarter.
Then came a huge play from the defense as Isaiah Williams came up with a Madison Southern fumble on its next possession setting up the Jags on the Eagles’ 26-yard line. A few plays later, McHolan rolled out of the pocket and into the end zone on a 5-yard TD that tied the game at 28 and seized the momentum from the Eagles.`
“Our kids really rose to the occasion. We had some adversity tonight and we played right through it and I couldn’t be prouder,” Bowlin said. “Tonight’s the first time I really saw our football team and said, ‘Wow, we might be pretty good.’”
Some of East Jessamine’s biggest plays came on McHolan roll-outs, including the TD pass to Moore and each of his own TD runs. The play, sometimes called the “waggle,” gives the senior the option of throwing a pass on the run or tucking and trying to reach the edge of the defense.
“It’s really good. It’s because it’s counter to one of our biggest plays, two of our biggest plays, actually,” McHolan said. “Obviously we’ve run waggle ever since East Jessamine’s been a school. We’re running it still and it’s working. We must be doing something right.”
McHolan had 118 yards rushing and passed for 29. East Jessamine rushers Dylan Moore had 117 yards, Valdon Miles, 116 yards and a TD, Jaylen Taylor, 28 yards and two TDs and Donavyn Motley, 34 yards.
“It makes it really easy when you hand the ball to good players,” Bowlin said. “The wing-T was invented in about 1950, maybe even earlier than that, and we’ve got really good players running it. … When you’ve got a Dylan Moore and Turner McHolan, Jaylen Taylor and Valdon Miles and Donavyn Motley and they just keep taking turns on who’s getting it — then it becomes pretty tough to stop.”
For Madison Southern, Storm ran for two TDs in addition to the throw, while Adrian Jones had TD runs of 2 and 27 yards. In the second half, the Eagles were held to seven points and had one possession end in a turnover on downs and another on a fumble.