If you didn’t know anything different Friday night, you would have thought that playoff football had arrived at East Jackson Comprehensive High School.
It had been nearly two months since the Eagles played at home, and it was homecoming and with all the festivities surrounding that, the atmosphere was electric. The football game didn’t disappoint either, but East Jackson came up on the losing end of a nail-biter to Haralson County, 27-26.
East Jackson was licking its chops for its first victory since a 28-14 win Sept. 9 over Oglethorpe County, but Haralson County struck first at the 6:35 mark in the first quarter on a beautiful 30-yard touchdown pass that came off a missed assignment.
From that point on, though, East Jackson dominated the rest of the first half, responding with 19 points off two Haralson County turnovers to take a 19-7 lead into halftime.
The Eagles’ first score came on a touchdown run by quarterback Josh Adair, and East Jackson scored again in the second quarter off a botched Haralson County punt in the end zone. East Jackson then added two field goals.
But, as has been the case this year, the Eagles encountered second-half struggles and failed to finish off Haralson County.
Specifically, turnovers and missed blocks undid East Jackson as the Rebels chipped away at the lead. But after Haralson County scored with 11:50 to go in the fourth quarter to take a 20-19 edge, East Jackson responded with a 6-yard touchdown run from Cody Parr to regain the advantage at 26-20 with 5:41 left in the game.
Haralson County, though, wasn’t finished as two plays later the Rebels broke free for a touchdown to take a 27-26 lead with 5:15 to play.
East Jackson got the ball on the ensuing drive and was moving until a fumble by Adair gave the ball back to Haralson County with 3:52 remaining in the game. Both teams traded a possession each before East Jackson turned the ball over on downs with 1:24 left and Haralson County was able to kneel on three consecutive plays to run out the clock for the victory.
It doesn’t get any easier for East Jackson this week as cross-county rival Jackson County rolls into the Eagles Nest after a huge upset over Hart County that has put the Panthers in a position to reach the state playoffs.