Williams interception saves Jaguars’ hope for playoffs

It was not as easy as last year’s 45-20 road win, but last Friday, October 18, the Cedar Shoals Jaguars faced the Johnson Knights in their third region game of the season. The Jags walked away with a 26-21 win in the last home game of the season after a game-saving interception by senior Jaiden Williams sealed the victory with less than a minute left on the clock. 

After going 0-10 in 2017 and 4-6 in 2018, Johnson hired first season head coach Stan Lutrell from Buford to turn the program around. A smaller team compared to Cedar Shoals, the Knights have exceeded expectations in the region this season, winning 24-22 against Walnut Grove. They gave the Jaguars an effort that fell just short.

Within the first 12 seconds of the game Johnson running back, Xzavier Ramsey returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, setting the pace of the game. The Jaguars quickly evaluated what they needed to do and scored twice in the first quarter leaving halftime with a score of 12-7. 

Then junior defensive tackle Tion Bailey took a kickoff return 67 yards all the way down to the one-yard line where Rusher punched it in making it 19-7. 

“It was my position to make the play. I did not want to let my team down,” Bailey said. “Before the game, I felt I was going to get another kickoff return.” 

While the second quarter went scoreless, The Jags put up 14 points holding the Knights to only one touchdown the third quarter to go up 26-14. 

Johnson’s comeback was thwarted by an interception from Williams just before the goal-line, ending the region thriller

“It was fourth down and we needed a stop so we can get off the field to save the game. And me watching the film I knew that it was going to be a pass because of the formation they were in, so I just read my keys and stayed with it,” Williams said.

The Jags need to reflect on their performance from the game in order to make adjustments going into the Loganville game on November 1, a must-win game if the Jaguars aim to make the playoffs. 

“I am not going to change anything in practice. I just have to take what I do in practice to the game,” senior quarterback Jaylan Rusher said.

Coming off back-to-back losses against Buford and Clarke Central, the Jags’ confidence has taken a turn for the better as they prepare for two crucial road games that will determine if they enter the playoffs. Without a win against Loganville, Cedar Shoals will miss the postseason for the first time in three years.

The Red Devils are coming off a win against Walnut Grove 42-0 and a win against Central with a final score of 38-21.