The Jackson Indians are looking to repeat like a machine gun, and the defending State Champs are now one step closer after last night’s beatdown of the Rockwood Summit Falcons. The Varsity Football team extended their overall winning streak to 26 and moved to a perfect 12-0 in 2021 with the dominant 49-14 victory, and are now just two wins away from back-to-back State Titles.
The Pit was packed again for this one, but the raucous crowd was quieted early as the Falcons unleashed a 77-yard bomb on their opening drive for a quick 7-0 advantage. Then on the ensuing kickoff, Jackson fumbled the return and the Falcons fell on it. They marched down a short field and capped off the drive with a one-yard TD run, resulting in a shocking 14-0 lead just three minutes into the game.
The Summit section of the crowd, feeling comfortable with their “convincing” lead just barely into the game, took it upon themselves to foolishly gloat with a chant of “OVER-RATED!”.
The Indians took umbrage with the deficit (and the chant) and answered back with a drive nearly the length of the field, featuring a long pass from QB Cameron Marchi to the one yard line that was eventually punched in by Running Back Tony Williams. It was 14-7 and the Indians had completed the first step of their comeback.
There were a couple hiccups though, as the Indians fumbled again (one of three on the day) and had several big plays called back due to penalties. The flags were flying on both sides in this one, but none more notable than a massive bomb from Marchi to top Wideout Kannen Turley that negated a 60+ yard touchdown. The Indians didn’t break on defense though and got the ball back into Marchi’s hands, as he was able to hook up with Wide Receiver Isaiah Davis for a 46-yard strike that tied the game at 14 all to end the first quarter scoring.
The second quarter would be a defensive battle until the 3:49 mark when Marchi found Turley for a ridiculous 70-yard touchdown that put the Indians up 21-14… and you could feel the tide was turning. Then, after a big defensive stop Jackson got the ball back at their own 12. It only took one play, as Marchi found Turley again over the top as the wideout busted out of coverage and streaked down the sideline for an 88-yard score and a 28-14 lead to close out the half.
When asked what the Indians’ keys to success were after trailing in the first, Turley simply responded, “We didn’t panic. We went along with our game plan.”
About midway through the third quarter you could feel the flood gates about to open. A big Jackson interception led to a nifty screen pass on the ensuing possession from Marchi to Davis that went for 30 yards and a 35-14 lead. And just as the second quarter belonged to Turley, the third surely belonged to Davis. It looked as though the Falcons were about to score, but an INT in the end zone by the Indians defense reset the stage. After getting the ball back and just six seconds remaining in the quarter, Marchi found Davis again for an incredible 89-yard catch and run that put the Indians up 42-14, and put the game out of reach.
The defense held strong in the fourth, much like they did in quarters two and three, and Marchi added another TD to pad the already insurmountable lead. This time he found John-Paul Sauer for 25 yards, giving Jackson a 49-14 lead with just five and a half minutes of clock to kill until glory. The Indians wrapped it up and celebrated on the field as they advanced to the State Semifinals.
The offensive line did an incredible job protecting Marchi and giving him all the time in the world in this one. When asked how this line got to be so special and effective, OL Ashton Flinn replied, “As the season has progressed us guys up front came to the reality that we need to have the goal every game to be the most physical and dominant guys on the field. Our prep in practice has really helped us zone in on that goal and perform at our best.”
It certainly showed in this one, and after that oh so brief first-quarter scare, the Indians went on the war path, which goes to show you just how formidable this team can be when confronted with even the slightest bout of adversity. Jackson rolled after that hiccup and totaled 600 yards on the day, while allowing just 317 to Summit. The Falcons’ running game was kept in check (in large part thanks to Tony Terry, who snuffed out virtually anything on the ground) with just 89 yards on 30 carries, and the defense forced three turnovers.
But the big story of this game was, once again, the quarterback play of Marchi. The Senior signal caller unloaded on the Falcons for 515 yards and six passing touchdowns, and was also second on the team in rushing yards with 25. He used the deep ball like it was going out of style, and mixed in some clever play-action quick passes along with some very effective screens. Ultimately, he did it all, and flat out embarrassed Summit’s secondary.
His receivers weren’t too shabby either. Davis led the way with a whopping 243 yards on six catches and hauled in three TDs. Turley was nipping at his heels with five grabs for 214 and a pair of scores. As for the ground game, it was relatively quiet, because, frankly, they weren’t asked to do much. Williams carried the bulk of the load for 34 yards and a touchdown.
Last but certainly not least we champion the defense and special teams. Kicker Logan Bruns made history when he connected on all seven of his extra points, giving him 218 and setting the new state record. As for the Indian defense, they doled out tackles like a slot machine spilling out quarters. Terry led the way with 14 total (four assisted and three for a loss), Blake Blackman had 10 plus an interception and Ryley Styer had three solo, four assisted and three pass break ups. Griffin Horman was also impressive with 12 total tackles (six of each) and rushed the quarterback a pair of times.
To say this was a stellar effort by all involved is truly an understatement. The Indians are rolling and show no signs of slowing down, possibly playing their best football of the season against their toughest competition. Now just two wins away from a second consecutive State Championship, they will take on Webb City in the State Semifinals.
All the pieces are coming together and that spells trouble for anyone who runs up against this Jackson team.