Cunningham

North Jackson senior Brady Cunningham picks up yardage during a 48-7 win over New Hope Friday night.

Diego Holt breaks a long run during North Jackson's 48-7 win over New Hope.

North Jackson closed Class 4A Region 7 play in style Friday night.

The Chiefs built a four-touchdown halftime lead on the way to a 48-7 “Senior Night” victory over visiting New Hope at R.D. Hicks Stadium in Stevenson.

I’m proud for the senior, happy that can get this last (win) at home in the regular season. It’s always important for that,” said North Jackson head coach Joe Hollis, Jr. “These guys have bought in. They’re changing everything (in the program) to an old-school environment.” 

The victory also included a state-record setting effort from junior linebacker Will Sims, who recovered four New Hope fumbles. The previous single-game fumble recovery record, according to the AHSAA’s website, was three held by Briarwood Christian’s Jordan Carroll set in 2012.

“I just saw the ball and picked it up,” said Sims, who returned one fumble for a touchdown. “I couldn’t have done without my teammates forcing the fumbles.” 

Senior Macklin Guess got the Chiefs’ scoring barrage started midway through the first quarter, giving North Jackson (5-4, 5-2) a 6-0 lead thanks to his 5-yard touchdown run. 

The Chiefs then scored two straight touchdowns following Sims’ fumble recoveries, a 12-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Dalton Morris and a 1-yard touchdown run by Guess giving them a 20-0 lead on New Hope (3-6, 1-6). 

Sims then made his fourth fumble recovery on the final play of the half, returning it 30 yards for touchdown and sending the Chiefs to halftime with a 28-0 lead.

Touchdown runs of 17 yards from Diego Holt and 10 yards from Guess put North Jackson in front 41-7 after three quarters, and Guess added a 20-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.

Holt led the Chiefs in rushing with 185 yards on 25 carries while Guess ran for 50 yards. Morris was 13-of-24 passing for 159 yards with fellow senior Brady Cunningham catching six passes for 55 yards and E.J. Wilson catching three for 36 yards.

“Super proud of the guys,” Hollis said. “The assistant coaches did a great job getting them prepared, and the players did what they were supposed to do and played a really good football game.”

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