Jackson Survives Second Half Scare Against Bulldogs< < Back to
ATHENS, Ohio- It didn’t take long for the Jackson Ironmen to strike.
Tristan Prater took the opening kick past midfield. On the first play from scrimmage, Jayden Spires took the ball 14 yards to get inside the Athens’ 20-yard line. Three plays later, Brice Graham plunged into the end zone from five yards out to give Jackson a 7-0 lead less than 90 seconds into the game.
The Ironmen gave a dominant offensive performance, spearheaded by the dynamic duo of Spires and Graham, and jumped out to a lead that they wouldn’t give up, as they survived a furious second half charge from the Bulldogs to take the game 31-26.
The Ironmen powered their way to an all-around fantastic first half performance. Offensively, Spires and Graham were given plenty of room to work by their offensive line. The two running backs combined for 118 yards in the first half alone. While they didn’t waste time finding the end zone on their opening drive, they were much more methodical on their ensuing possessions. They had a 15 play, 79-yard drive that took over seven minutes of game time. It was capped off by a 10-yard run by Graham, his second score of the game that pushed the Jackson lead to 13-0 at the end of the first quarter.
It wasn’t just Graham and Spires getting it done for the Ironmen. Quarterback Jared Icenhower hit junior receiver Nate McManaway for a 49-yard gain in the second quarter. Icenhower was extremely effective, as he threw for 111 yards on the game on only six total completions. Spires would find the end zone from three yards out to give Jackson a 19-0 lead at halftime.
On the defensive end, the Ironmen’s defense had a bend, but don’t break performance that allowed them to take command of the game early. Athens quarterback Joey Moore used his arm and his legs to lead the Bulldogs deep in Ironmen territory on their first two drives, but they weren’t able to turn either into points.
With their backs against the wall, the Bulldogs showed they had tremendous fight in them and flipped the script in the second half. They started the third quarter with the ball, and Moore hit Nate Trainer for 17 yards. He followed that up with a 20-yard strike to Braeden Halbert. To finish off the drive three plays later, Moore took it himself for a 14 yard touchdown that started the Bulldogs climb back into this game. Following another long Jackson drive that ended with a touchdown, Moore hit receiver Peyton Gail in stride for a 31-yard touchdown to put the score at 25-12 heading into the final quarter.
Moore left his mark on the game in the second half. He threw for 207 yards in the third and fourth quarters alone to finish the game with 256 yards through the air. He added two touchdown passes to Trainer in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late for the Bulldogs. Trainer had a standout game himself receiving for Athens, finishing with seven catches for 168 yards along with the two scores.
For the Ironmen, Graham added his third touchdown of the game with a minute left in the fourth quarter to put an exclamation point on the night. He ended the game with 115 rushing yards, only outdone by his partner in the backfield, Spires, who had a game-high 126 yards on the ground.
Jackson moves to 2-0 on the year and will play Wellston at home next Friday. Athens falls to 0-2 with a game at Parkersburg South next week.