Senior Branson Sharpley hawks down ball carrier Javier Magee shortly before suffering a concussion in the fourth quarter. Photo/Brad Crowe

By Brad Crowe 

The week one matchup between Northeast Jones and Taylorsville was quite the thriller — perhaps more thrilling than many anticipated — as the Tigers gave the defending 2A state champion Tartars all they could handle down to the very last minute of play. Ultimately the Tartars’ level of athleticism gave them the edge they needed to squeeze out a 28-25 victory, but Coach Mitch Evans and the team’s veteran leaders know their performance left much to be desired.

“Very undisciplined” is how Evans chose to describe the performance to his team.

“Everybody out here has got some improving to do, coaches included. Our word of the week was discipline, we’re going to have that word again next week. Discipline will be our word until we figure it out.”

Things seemed to be clicking well on offense for the visiting Tartars in the first quarter, scoring touchdowns on both of their drives in the period. 

The defense, however, failed to make a stop on three of four attempts in the first half. Northeast Jones’ newly-converted signal caller Javier Magee led rushed for one touchdown and passed for two more — one from 37 yards out to Jay Jones and the other a 65-yard bomb to Mason Smith. Smith also caught two interception thrown by the highly-touted Tartars quarterback Ty Keyes, which kept momentum on the home side for much of the half and helped them take an 18-14 advantage into the locker room.

At risk of losing their 10-game winning streak dating back to last September, the Tartars came out hot in the third quarter. After their defense forced a three and out, Ty Keyes drove the offense 72 yards in just four plays to retake the lead with a touchdown. 

Late in the fourth, the Tartars put the game on ice with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Keyes to senior Raven Arrington to take a two-score lead with under three minutes to play. Though Javier Magee once again led his offense down the field for a score, there simply was not enough time to close the gap with another possession, and the Tigers suffered their second consecutive season-opening loss to the Tartars.

“We’ve got a lot of evaluating to do,” said Coach Evans. “Our biggest goal coming into this week was going 1-0, and we did accomplish that. But we’ve got to get to work on Sunday and Monday correcting some issues because we have a short week coming up.”

The Tartars will have just five days to make adjustments before taking on the Raleigh Lions in their first home game of the season next Thursday. As for Northeast Jones, they will travel to Soso next Friday to take on Coach Pierson and the West Jones Mustangs.