STEVENSON — The North Jackson football team delivered their first win of the season Friday night, no doubt a memorable one for its head coach.
North Jackson (1-2, 1-1) raced past Class 4A Region 7 rival DAR 57-31 at R.D. Hicks Stadium to give Chandler Tygard his first victory at Chiefs head coach.
Tygard was proud of the way his team performed in its home opener.
“We had a great game plan,” said Tygard. “Our coaches did a great job, and the players executed (the game plan).”
The game started with fireworks. On the Patriots’ first play from scrimmage, quarterback Justin Stubblefield took the keeper 63 yards to the end zone. The point after was good, and DAR led 7-0 less than 30 seconds into the game. The Chiefs answered immediately. Dalton Morris found freshman receiver Kyle Posey for a 49-yard touchdown pass on North Jackson’s first play from scrimmage. North Jackson’s two-point conversion attempt was good, and the Chiefs led 8-7 less than a minute into the game. The Chiefs forced a punt on DAR’s next possession and took over at their own 33 yard line. Five plays later, Johnny Gilliam scampered 25 yards into the end zone. Abraham Castro’s extra point was good, and North Jackson led 15-7. The Patriots put together a long drive midway through the quarter, but North Jackson forced them to kick a field goal to pull within 15-10 after one quarter.
Both teams were forced to punt on their first possessions of the second quarter. The Chiefs’ lost a fumble on North Jackson’s second drive, and DAR capitalized the turnover. Two plays later, Stubblefield’s pass was deflected by Carter Gass, but receiver Martius Leonard caught the tipped pass and walked into the end zone for a touchdown. Stubblefield connected with Leonard again for the two-point conversion, and DAR (1-3, 0-2) led 18-15 with less than eight minutes left in the half. North Jackson answered quickly, and Gilliam scored his second touchdown of the game. Castro’s point after was no good and the Chiefs led 21-18. Gass recovered a Stubblefield fumble, and North Jackson took over at the DAR 44 yard line. Morris connected with Brady Cunningham on the first play of the drive, and KJ Huckabee ran in the two-point conversion, extending the lead to 29-18. Stubblefield left the game with an injury, but DAR scored right before the half to cut North Jackson’s lead to 29-24.
North Jackson’s offense picked up right where it left off at halftime, scoring on its first possession in the third quarter. Gass threw a 14-yard touchdown to Morris, and the Chiefs led 36-24. North Jackson’s defense did not allow a score in the third quarter, and Cunningham recovered a Leonard fumble late in the quarter. Gilliam ran in his third touchdown of the game, and North Jackson led 43-24 at the end of the third.
Gilliam scored his fourth touchdown of the game on the Chiefs’ first drive of the fourth quarter, extending the lead to 50-24. North Jackson stopped DAR on a fourth and goal from the 10-yard line on the Patriots’ next possession. The Chiefs drove 90 yards and Morris capped off the drive with a 21-yard touchdown run. Ty Darling would tack on DAR’s final score of the night with a 39-yard touchdown run with less than a minute left in the game. North Jackson ran out the clock and took home its first victory of the year.
Morris and Gilliam led the Chiefs on offense Friday night. Morris completed five passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. He added 69 yards and a touchdown on the ground caught a pass for a touchdown. Gilliam tallied 108 yards on 10 carries and four touchdowns. Huckabee added 99 rushing yards. Gass added 44 yards and a touchdown through the air.
Tygard said this win could be a turning point in the Chiefs’ season after starting 0-2.
“If the guys spend the extra time off the practice field and really dive into football, this could be the turning point,” said Tygard, whose teams hosts region foe St. John Paul II next Friday.
“Next week will be a huge game, and we’ve got to get some more people out here,” said Tygard. “I’m trying to bring fun back to North Jackson.”