South Jones junior quarterback John Mitchell needed an opening just large enough to fit his 6’4, 205-pound frame through. Instead, Mitchell, running towards the left edge, found a hole “large enough to fit a truck through.”
Some 55 yards later, Mitchell crossed the goal line for his fourth touchdown Friday night.
“It was a read-option play,” said Mitchell after the game. “I knew my [offensive] line would get after it. I saw it, hit the crease and scored from there.”
His four-score night helped South Jones declaw county rival Northeast Jones in The Jungle, 41-14.
“It’s great,” Mitchell added about the win. “We knew [Northeast Jones] was going to play hard. They have had a lot of injuries, but it’s a rivalry, and anything can happen. So we knew we would have to come here and play our best.”
The win marked the third-straight year South Jones has beaten NEJ in Cory Reynolds’ fourth year with the program as head coach.
“It was a big game because it was the next game on the schedule,” said Reynolds. “It was even better because this was our cross county rivals. A lot of these kids have grown up together. I am proud of my guys for what they did tonight.”
South Jones improves to 3-1, while NEJ falls to 0-4.
Mitchell’s big night
After a scoreless first quarter and two-play 80-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter put the NEJ up 7-3, Mitchell answered with 6-yard TD pass to senior wide receiver Ja’vharian Cooley for the Braves first touchdown of the night.
On the following drive, the junior QB struck again through the air, this time on a 19-yard bullet to senior Shiwon Lovett with 2:51 left in the first half. The score gave South Jones a 17-7 lead.
“He is coming around,” said Reynolds. “I’m proud of him. He still has a lot of work to do. It’s a work in progress that begins with the little things with everyone including him.”
When a three-and-out forced NEJ to punt on the next possession, South Jones picked up a blocked punt and returned it to the NEJ 13-yard line. Mitchell danced his way into the end zone on the very next play to earn his third touchdown to give South Jones a 24-7 lead going into halftime.
Mitchell capped his four-score night on a 55-yard TD run with 45 seconds to go in the third quarter. It gave the Braves a commanding 35-7 lead.
Sophomore kicker Mark Diers nailed two field goals in the win for South Jones. His first, a 31-yard FG, was the first points scored in the contest. His second extended the Braves lead 27-7 early in the third stanza. Diers punched the FG through from 37-yards deep.
South Jones senior RB Jacob Pigford capped the scoring for both sides on a TD run with 2:05 left to play. All 87 yards Pigford gained on the ground came on that drive.
Mitchell led in yards gained with 251, 147 of those yards came through the air on 10 completions.
Lovett finished with 73 yards receiving on four receptions.
NEJ has been marred by injuries so far on the season. Sophomore QB Mason Smith sat out Friday night’s game with a concussion, and the Tigers started their third string running back after a season-ending injury to Jazaylon Morris, and back-up Tony Barnes sat out a week due to an injury last week against Collins.
Unfortunately, it happened again. Early in the first half, Northeast Jones lost another running back – senior Keagan Ward.
‘It seems like every week we come into a game with a good game plan, and we put another man up, and he looks bright then it happens,” said NEJ head coach Keith Braddock. “Ward tore a ligament or broke a bone tonight. That is as real as I can be. I was proud of our kids. They never quit. But these kids aren’t going to quit. We have great kids and great coaches.
“At the end of the day I am the captain of this ship, and the blame needs to be pointed at me. I accept that, and that is part of it. It’s my job to get this fix and not make excuses.”
South Jones host Bay High next Friday night on the Reservation for Homecoming, while NEJ plays host Bay Springs. Kickoff for both games is slated for 7 p.m.