The Commerce Tigers (2-0) overcame 140 yards in penalties to topple rival East Jackson (0-2) 28-14, in the very first matchup between the two teams.
This Friday, the Tigers will try to cut back on penalties as they host Region 7AAA Banks County in the resumption of an interrupted rivalry. Click for photos.
The Leopards are 1-1 on the season. They beat East Jackson in their opener, 46-30 and dropped a 22-7 decision last week to Athens Christian.
Tiger head coach Marvin Justice expects the Leopards to look a lot like the East Jackson Eagles.
“Banks County runs about the same offense and the same defense as East Jackson, so as far as preparation goes, it’s not like we will be seeing something that we aren’t at least a little bit familiar with,” said Justice. “They are another spread offense team with a 3-3-5 defense, so our game planning and preparation should be a bit easier.”
Justice says that his main objective for this week of practice is focus.
“The biggest thing we need to do this week is work on our focus and approach to the game, he said. “With what happened with coach McClure, it’s been really tough. There are a lot of distractions and we are glad we survived. We just want to stay focused and correct the mistakes we have had.”
Senior running back Quay Little added, “We had a rough week, but we are going to come together, keep working and get ready for Banks County.”
Game time is at 8 p.m. Friday at Ray Lamb Stadium.
East Jackson Recap
East Jackson opened the game with a 10-play scoring drive capped by a 10-yard pass from Austin Beauchamp to Casey Reed.
After a couple of scoreless drives by both teams, Tiger halfback Quay Little broke loose for a 33-yard touchdown run, tying the contest at 7.
After a Commerce fumble, East Jackson took advantage of its good field position. Beauchamp led the East Jackson offense 48 yards and thrust himself into the end zone on a one-yard quarterback keeper, putting the Eagles up 14-7.
The Tigers answered that on the ensuing possession when Terrick Ramsey went 65 yards for another Tiger score.
The two teams went into halftime tied at 14, but it would be Commerce that emerged with a newly found intensity.
The Commerce defense became stalwart in the second half, limiting the Eagles to only 22 yards of offense while the Tiger offense controlled the ball and the clock.
Quarterback Drew Whitfield rushed for two more scores on consecutive Commerce drives, sealing a 28-14 Commerce victory.
“We only really had two real days of practice (last week), and we came out sloppy in the first (half),” said Tiger lineman Chance McClure. “We came out fired up in the second and were able to shut them down on defense.”
The Tigers racked up 418 yards in total offense against East Jackson – 369 on the ground and 46 through the air.
“Coach Mike Brown gave us a motivational speech at halftime and told us we were a hard working team,” said senior Tiger Chase Ledbetter. “Drew (Whitfield) and the offense came out the second half and played great. Our defense came out and played just as hard.”
After only two games, Commerce has accumulated over 800 yards of offense while allowing only 343.
Justice declared ball control and time of possession as major factors in the Commerce win.
“The biggest difference was that we stopped turning the ball over,” he said. “We were able to keep the ball the second half. Good offense and good defense go hand in hand. Our defense did well, but they weren’t on the field much. We came out, we held on to the ball, and our kids did a great job staying focused after all the penalties.”
East Jackson head coach Brian Smith noted that Eagles were only able to run 11 plays in the second half.
“They had the ball the whole time, and we didn’t convert third downs on the drives we had it,” Smith said.