On a night where East Jackson struggled offensively, the Eagle defense was happy to lend a helping hand.
East Jackson (3-1, 1-0) picked up five turnovers Friday as the Eagles beat Jackson County 21-12 for their second-straight victory over their in-county rivals (click here for photos). Two of those turnovers led to 14 East Jackson points.
“Defense is like our offense,” East Jackson defensive back Trent Dowdy said. “We score points ... We won the game tonight, even though our offense didn’t look good.”
East Jackson scored a defensive touchdown for the second-straight week when Dowdy intercepted a Kyle Daniel pass in the first quarter and took it 45 yards the other way to put the Eagles up 7-0.
“I just lined up right,” said Dowdy, who had two interceptions in the game. “I just got the pick. Coach has been working with me all week, and I was just in the spot.”
East Jackson picked up a fumble at the Jackson County 31 later in the first quarter and scored when Tyler Collins found Drashun Upadhyay for an 18-yard touchdown pass to put the Eagles ahead 14-0.
Jackson County got rushing touchdowns from Kyle Daniel (two yards) and Dustin Scott (20 yards) — Scott finished with 189 yards rushing — in the third quarter as the Panthers (1-3, 0-1) closed the gap to 14-12. Collins, however, gave East Jackson a nine-point cushion with his two-yard score on fourth down with 6:28 left in the game. Collins finished with 112 yards on 20 carries, according to East Jackson’s final tally sheet.
The Eagles then picked up two more turnovers — an interception and fumble recovery — to seal the win.
“I didn’t feel like we played really well offensively or defensively,” East Jackson coach Brian Smith said. “But we did enough to get the job done. They’re a good football team. They played well against us. We made a few more plays and turnovers were very key all throughout.”
The loss left Jackson County coach Billy Kirk extremely frustrated. The Panthers ran for 288 yards and limited East Jackson to 148 yards on the ground. Standout Eagle tailback C.J. Allen had just 36 yards. But the Panthers’ mistakes were too much to overcome.
“Jackson County beat Jackson County. Period. End of discussion,” said Kirk, whose team finished with 29 first downs.
Despite those mistakes, the Panthers still had a chance to win the ball game. Kirk pointed to his team’s defensive effort. Jackson County didn’t have any official stats on how much rushing yardage it surrendered, but Kirk was certain that East Jackson’s tandem of Collins and Allen didn’t even reach 100 yards combined.
“Our defense absolutely just tore them up — all night, in every way that they possibly could,” Kirk said. “… I doubt they have over 100 yards of offense. The 24 kid (Allen) and the 16 kid (Collins) were not a factor in that football game.”
Kirk added: “I’m not taking anything away from East Jackson and their football team. Jackson County beat Jackson County tonight (Friday).”
Smith — in his first year at East Jackson — said it was a great win for his team, which has already matched its win total from last year.
“It was a great win for our kids,” Smith said. “Anytime you can beat these guys, it’s a great win for our program.”