The East Gadsden Jaguars received plenty of support from their fans as they faced off against the Marianna Bulldogs this past Friday night for their homecoming game. The Jaguar’s offense had trouble getting into a rhythm and executing, but their defense played well and kept Marianna’s quarterback on his heels the first two quarters of the game and held the Bulldogs to seven points at the half.
The Jaguars scored a quick touchdown at the beginning of the game, but they were unable to put anymore points on the board until running back Javarious Johnson took a handoff up the middle and exploded through a big hole for a touchdown run of about 45 yards with 1:37 left in the first quarter; after an unsuccessful extra point attempt East Gadsden held a 13-0 lead that they carried over into the second quarter.
In the bottom half of the second quarter, the Bulldog’s offense began to put together a nice drive, and with less than six minutes left to play in the half, the Bulldogs found themselves in the red zone. On third down the Jaguars defense stepped up and stopped Marianna and caused them to settle for a field goal; the Jaguars got a big play from its special teams unit as a lineman got through and partially blocked the kick.
The Bulldogs got the ball one more time before the half and took advantage of their opportunity as their running back capped off the drive by cutting a run to the right sideline for a score with 1:10 to play in the first half. After a successful kick, they had sliced the Jaguars lead to six. With less than a minute to play in the second quarter, Jaguar quarterback Al Peterson dropped back and threw a bomb downfield, but a Marianna defender picked the pass off and almost returned it for a score, and as the final seconds ticked away in the first half, the Jaguars lead by a score of 13-7.
After an exciting half time show by Bulldog and Jaguar bands, East Gadsden received the ball first to start the second half but were unable to sustain the drive. On Marianna’s first offensive drive of the half, they found themselves inside the Jaguars’ 10-yard line and with 8:05 left in the third quarter, their running back scored on a run up the middle. After a missed extra point attempt the game was tied 13-13.
Coach Tracy Laing began to fire his offense up on the sideline before they took the field, and with just over six minute to go in the quarter running back Xavier Turner broke on a run down the sideline and sprinted all the way down near the Bulldogs’ 5-yard line before he was tackled. On the next play Johnson scored again on a run down the left sideline and with 6:09 left in the third, the Jaguars were back in the lead by a score of 20-13.
After a defensive stop by the Jaguars, their offense constructed another nice drive and were able to once again get into the red zone with 4:05 to go in the third back-up quarterback Jajuan Perkins found wide receiver Kendre James for a score to cushion their lead by a score of 27-13.
East Gadsden struggled against the Bulldogs’ rushing attack in the second half and as a result they gave up two fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns. With 1:45 left in the game, the Bulldogs scored their second touchdown of the quarter and still had a chance to steal the game away from the Jaguars, but Marianna’s onside kick attempt was recovered by an East Gadsden player. The Jaguar offense held onto the ball and ran the clock out to escape with a close 27-25 homecoming victory over Marianna.
Immediately after the game when asked how he felt about the win, Laing said, “We didn’t execute.” The Jaguars’ next game will be on the road against Choctawhatchee. Laing said his plans for preparing for this week’s game will be “just to slow things down and correct mental mistakes.”