North Jackson’s first trek to play into neighboring Tennessee in 24 years saw the Chiefs return to Alabama with a convincing win.
North Jackson scored on its first offensive play, built a three-touchdown halftime lead and ran up more than 500 total yards of offense en route to a 52-6 victory at Whitwell (Tennessee) Thursday night.
It was North Jackson’s first game on Tennessee soil since 1996. The matchup was North Jackson’s first with Whitwell, a longtime opponent of the former Bridgeport and Stevenson High Schools that consolidated to form North Jackson High School in 1988.
North Jackson (1-0) finished with 562 total yards and 25 first downs while limiting Whitwell to 89 total yards and seven first downs. The Chiefs defense held run-oriented Whitwell (0-2) to only five yards rushing.
“We’re happy with the win, but we still felt like we didn’t play as well as we could’ve. We can’t leave points out there and still had way too many penalties,” said North Jackson head coach Chandler Tygard. “We held them to five yards rushing. That was exciting.”
It didn’t take long for newcomer Nigel Lanier to make an impact, as the Hazel Green transfer caught three passes, all for touchdowns, covering 65, 30 and 69 yards from quarterback Dalton Morris. The 65-yard score came on North Jackson’s first offensive snap.
Morris finished 8-of-20 passing for 236 yards while Johnny Gilliam ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. Gilliam also had a 28-yard reception and scored two two-point conversions. Ayson Quinn ran four times for 42 yards and caught three passes for 34 yards while Morris ran for 38 yards on four carries, Macklin Guess ran for 37 yards on four carries and K.J Huckabee ran for 30 yards one three carries.
Lanier’s first two touchdown catches and Gilliam’s 17-yard touchdown run sent the Chiefs into halftime with a 22-0 advantage. North Jackson scored quickly to start the third quarter on Gilliam’s 58-yard touchdown run and Lanier’s two-point conversion. The Chiefs then recovered an onside kick and scored three plays later on the third Morris to Lanier touchdown pass to push their lead to 36-0.
“It went from 22-0 to 36-0 without (Whitwell) touching the ball, so that was big,” Tygard said.
Jacob Winchester’s interception return for a touchdown got Whitwell (0-2) got on the board in the third quarter. Morris added touchdown runs of 2 and 11 yards while Brady Cunningham and Huckabee scored two-point conversions to close the scoring for North Jackson.
Luke Johnson led the Chiefs’ defense with nine tackles while Gilliam had seven and Myron Walton and Cade Reed had five each. Will Sims and Anthony Guess both had two tackles for a loss.
North Jackson opens Class 4A Region 7 play next week in Huntsville at Westminster Christian, which lost 30-7 at Geraldine Thursday night.
› David Riley, the owner and publisher of The Marion County News in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, contributed to this report.