University School of Jackson head coach Derrick Pritchard had a simple message for his team at halftime as they were down a point to Lakeway Christian on Friday.
“No matter what happens in these next two quarters or how this ends, I want you walking off the field knowing you’d given everything you could for this team and your brothers sitting beside you.”
USJ managed a comeback and outscored Lakeway Christian by 24 points over the last 2.5 quarters as the Bruins won 34-21.
USJ had a hard time keeping up with the Lions’ offensive pace early on.
Corben Howard threw to Aaren Tunstill for a 22-yard touchdown pass to answer a score by the visiting team early on.
And after Lakeway had scored another touchdown, Cooper Sikes kicked a 25-yard field goal to trail 14-10.
Another touchdown by Lakeway would give the visiting Lions a two-score lead early in the second, but the Bruin defense shut them down the rest of the game as far as scoring was concerned.
“Lakeway runs a unique offense that not many teams run, so it really takes you a series or two to figure out how you want to defend it and what you’re watching for before and after the snap,” Pritchard said. “And with our guys still developing in some areas even now, we found ourselves in a hole.”
Noah Spencer cut into the lead with a 62-yard run for a touchdown.
Sikes then hit a 30-yard field goal to cut the halftime lead to 21-20 in favor of Lakeway.
The score would remain that way for most of the third quarter until Spencer ran for another score and the 27-21 lead, USJ’s first of the game.
Spencer then ran for another touchdown to give the Bruins a two-score lead with less than six minutes to go.
“I’m so proud of our guys for the way they continued to compete, and they showed their character out there tonight,” Pritchard said.
USJ will travel to Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville next week, who defeated Christian Academy of Knoxville 42-6.
Jackson Christian 37, Ezell-Harding 7
As the Eagles prepare for different ways to score points, the phrase “defense wins championships” becomes a little more appropriate for Jackson Christian.
If that is the case, then Friday was a good time for the defense to hold the opposing offense to -15 rushing yards and 92 total yards.
“That’s exactly what we need as our offense finds its footing,” said Eagles head coach Darby Palmer, who got his 50th career coaching victory with the win, according to the JC Eagles football Twitter account. “And they definitely stepped up their game.
“They didn’t do anything they hadn’t been doing already, but we had a safety, a pick-six and multiple drives stopped on downs – those are big momentum changers in football. We never allowed them to have momentum.”
Austin Kelley got the scoring started when he connected with Jack Collins for a 19-yard score.
Later in the first quarter, Ezell-Harding had a hard time handling a punt and had to kick the ball out of the back of its end zone for a safety.
Kelley hit Trent Carrier from 17 yards out for the 16-0 lead early in the second quarter.
After Ezell-Harding started the second half with the ball, Carrier got into the end zone again, but this time, it was with a 75-yard interception return for a score.
The Eagles then took a lot of time off the clock with a scoring drive that was more than 90 yards that ended with a one-yard run by Deuce Lawrence.
After Ezell-Harding scored to avoid the shutout, Elijah DeMoss ran from 15 yards out for the final score of the game.
Jackson Christian will travel to Columbia Academy next week.
Marshall County 52, North Side 18
The Indians stayed with the home team for the first two quarters, but Marshall County outscored North Side 29-0 in the second half to pull away to the win.
Marshall County will travel to Hardin County next week.
Nashville Christian 47, Providence Christian 14
While neither of these schools are located in Madison County, Nashville Christian won the right to travel to Jackson next week to take on Trinity Christian, who earned a bye to the second round of the Division II-A playoffs with its region championship.
All three local private schools are officially in their respective state quarterfinals.
Brandon Shields, firstname.lastname@example.org