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Jaguars advance to south state championship

The 2017 inaugural season for the Jefferson Davis County Jaguars has lived up to the high expectations, but also the uncertainty of a new group of players coming together as one.

As the year has proven, the coming together was never a problem and the style of football displayed had its’ moments, but was always entertaining and hard fought with one goal in mind – win State!

This Friday night the Jaguars will travel to Hazelhurst to complete the dominance of the South as they take on the Indiana who defeated Forest to earn their right to play for South State.

The Jaguars took care of business in Port Gibson this past Friday night after struggling offensively in the first half, but owning the third quarter as the Jags and the former Mancuso teams have done in the past.

Tied at seven at the half, there was edginess in the stands and I am sure at home listening to the radio broadcast.

The Jags have had so many self-inflected wounds during the season, that many still remain in wonderment as to how they just keep winning, but winning they do by owning the third quarter and second half in almost every game.

The question on everyone’s mind is when the shoe will finally fall, and the fumbles are just too much to overcome.  It only gets harder from hear, with every play being more important, and controlling the ball, not giving it away.

The Jaguars started the game against the Blue Wave forcing a fumble on the opening drive, but giving it right back to them before the play was over.  Chris Hathorn picked up the ball from Port Gibson and returned it to the five yard line, then had it stripped from him, giving Port Gibson the ball right back with a first and ten.

Port Gibson put together a nine play drive, but stalled and turned the ball over on downs to the Jags.  It took only four plays for the Jag offense to go the fifty eight yards as Jafharis McKines finished the drive with three straight runs after James Washington started the drive going forty yards.  Point after was good and the Jags led 7 – 0 early.

Then the wheels came off for the Jags.  The illusive Blue Wave quarterback might have been greased down as the defense chased him all over the field, but had trouble getting him down and keeping him down.  Both teams put together good drives, but every drive the Jags had on the next three attempts was a fumble or a punt.

The third fumble of the night game Port Gibson the ball at the twenty two yard line, and despite all the defense could do, a bad ball placement on 4th and inches at the one and half yard line, gave Port Gibson first and goal.  The side judge marking the ball a full yard short, but the ball was placed forward by the umpire creating a need to measure and the Jags came up short.

The Blue Wave scored and with a successful point after tied the game at seven.

With only ninety four seconds before the half, the Jag offense put together a valiant effort to score going sixty seven of the seventy one yards needed to take the lead before the half.  A reverse play came up short as the horn sounded ending the half with the game tied at seven.

The second half, it was stop me if you can, as the Jags just ran, ran and ran some more doing just what was needed on the opening drive, going down field and scoring once again by Jafharis McKines.  Point after was good on a designed run off kick attempt, Jags up 15 – 7 in under three minutes of the second half.

Kameron Johnson, one of two Jags playing in the Mississippi – Alabama All Star Game, forced and recovered a fumble at the twenty two yard line of Port Gibson.

It took the Jags six plays before Jafharis scored for the third time, and with a little over half the quarter gone, the Jags were in control 22 – 7.

A seventeen yard sack, an unsportman penalty, a false start and Port Gibson was back to punt even though the legs of the quarterback got twenty five of the twenty seven yards need for a first down before the penalties began.

Again Jafharis McKines scores for the fourth time, still in the third quarter, twenty two points scored and the frustration from Port Gibson had begun and it showed in their lack of concentration.

To the air the Blue Wave went, but to no avail as they turned the ball over to the Jags on downs.

This time it was ‘train’ time as Terry Bryant rolled over Port Gibson players like a freight train over a penny, just flattened them in their tracks.  Kyser Booth finished the drive from thirty eight yards out, and the Jags were up 36 – 7 and headed to the South State Championship.

Thanks to some Jags penalties, the Blue Wave put together a drive down to the fifteen yard line, but a tipped ball ended up in Malik Shorts hands returning the ball to the Port Gibson forty seven yard line.

This time ‘the train’ got rolling on the first play and no one stepped in front of him as he rambled the forty seven yards for the final nail, kick was short, Jags lead thirty five points with just over five minutes in the game.

Once again, the special teams allowed a kickoff return for the second week in a row to be returned for a touchdown.  Point after was no good, and the final points of the night and for the season for Port Gibson.

“You have worked all summer for the opportunity you have before you.  We knew whoever could stand toe to toe for forty eight minutes would win, you did that, overcoming adversity again, but taking control in the second half, very proud of each and every one of you,” Mancuso said while celebrating with the team after the win.

Going on the road is what has been successful for Mancuso led teams.  Teams under Mancuso have not won South State at home, but always on the road.

Hazelhurst and the Jags have two game in common, both lost to East Central (Hazelhurst lost 21 – 0, the Jags lost 31 – 7) both teams defeated Franklin County (Hazelhurst 28 – 15, Jags 36 – 0) and West Marion (Hazelhurst 34 – 6, Jags 41 – 0).

Offensively the Jags have outscored Hazelhurst 575 to 367, while defensively the Jags have given up 253 to 236 for Hazelhurst.  The Jags are on a 10 game win streak while Hazelhurst have won 8 straight.

Hazelhurst relies 6 to 1 run over pass, averaging 315 rushing to 59 passing per game.  Jefferson Davis County 359 rushing to 69 passing, making the teams almost mirror images of each other.

It’s not rocket science, hold on to the ball, keep penalties under control, no cheap touchdowns, and play defense the way the Jags have all year, and the victory will be in hand, don’t and stay home.