Times Sports Correspondent
This past Friday East Gadsden hosted the Rutherford Rams of Panama City. The Rams put up the first points of the game with 9:45 left to play in the first quarter, as their quarterback hit a receiver sprinting down the left sideline. After the Rams went up 7-0, the Jaguars lost two fumbles the Rams converted into points, and with 4:42 left in the opening quarter, East Gadsden players found themselves behind by a score of 21-0.
Despite being down early, the Jaguars remained poised and with 4:24 to go in the first quarter, quarterback Al Peterson delivered a beautiful bomb to Kendre James as he ran past a few Ram defenders and into the end zone to put the first points on the scoreboard for East Gadsden.
After the Rams received the kickoff, lights went out on the field causing a 20-minute delay. This marked the second time this season that the Jaguars experienced a stoppage of play; in their first game they had a weather delay that lasted over an hour. After the delay Rutherford went three and out.
On the home team’s next possession, the offense put the ball on the ground again, but this time Jaleel Reynolds was able to recover it for the Jaguars, and on this drive the Jaguars decided to go for it on the fourth down, but a dropped pass caused the Rams to regain possession.
The Rams were once again able to turn the Jaguar’s misfortune into points, scoring on a short field goal that pushed their lead to 24-7 with 10:48 left to play in the half. After their field goal, Rutherford gambled and won by catching their opponents off guard with an onside kick and gaining possession, but the Jaguar defense stepped up and made the visiting team settle for a field goal attempt that they missed.
East Gadsden scored on their next possession as Peterson threw his second touchdown of the game to Jeremy Frison. Just as the Jaguars began to gain a little momentum, the Rams ran the next kickoff back for a score to push their lead to 31-14.
As the game seemed to be slipping out of the Jaguars, reach they started to claw their way back as Reynolds scored from a few yards out and Peterson connected again with James down the right side line. The crowd erupted as James ran into the end zone cutting Rutherford’s lead to 31-28.
During halftime, East Gadsden Head Coach Tracy Laing gave his players words of motivation to keep them focused: “We’ve got to finish; be consistent and keep working.”
The Jaguars came out of the locker room after the half and played an intense and well executed second half of football, scoring on their opening drive to take their first lead of the game by a score of 35-31.
East Gadsden’s defense began to clamp down on the Rams’ offense and with less than a minute to play in the third quarter, Reynolds made the first of his two interceptions in the half and returned it for a touchdown but the return was called back, giving the Jags the ball inside the Rams’ 30-yard line.
The home team capitalized on the turnover a few plays later as Peterson dropped back and threw his fourth touchdown of the game as James out-jumped two Rutherford defenders in the end zone with 11:45 left in the game, pushing their lead to 41-31. With less than 3 minutes to go in the game, the Jaguars began trying to grind out the clock by running the ball, and Devarious Johnson broke free up the middle and cut to the left side of the field for a big run and score from about 50 yards out a few plays later.
East Gadsden survived a rough first quarter in which they trailed the Rams by three touchdowns at one point to come back and win by a score of 49-34 as they racked up 375 yards of total offense. The Jaguars showed a lot of maturity. Laing said he was happy about the stellar play of both Al Peterson and Kendre James, and he said the whole team “showed a lot of character.” This Friday the Jaguars will be going on the road to battle a tough Godby team.
On his team’s next gridiron battle, Laing said, “ It’s gonna be a game.”