In their first game of the new season, the Cedar Shoals Jaguars faced off against the Oconee County Warriors, ranked second in class AAA. On a rainy night in Watkinsville, the Jaguars outrushed the Warriors by 30 yards but came up just short. On the back of senior quarterback Jacob Wright who had three touchdown passes, the Warriors pulled out a 27-19 win.
The Warriors jumped out to an early lead after Jacob Wright rushed for a 2-yard touchdown on Oconee’s first possession of the game to cap off a 72-yard, 11-play drive.
Coming back from behind was familiar territory for the Jaguars who had given up early touchdowns to the Warriors in the previous two matchups against them.
“I made sure to let the rest of the team know to not let their heads down yet, ” senior running back Jerdavian Colbert said. “We still had three quarters of game left so we had plenty of time to rebound.”
To start the second quarter, Colbert broke out a 45-yard rushing touchdown to put the Jaguars on the board. On the next Warriors drive, senior running back Darius Johnson Jr. fumbled the ball which the Jaguars defense recovered.
Cedar’s first play after the turnover was a lateral pass from junior quarterback Mandrell Glenn to Colbert who then threw the ball to sophomore Devin Hester for the 54-yard score. The Jaguars lead was six after the extra point attempt was blocked.
“I knew I was going to get the ball but as I caught the ball, I thought the defense was going to hit me,” Colbert said. “I saw my receiver open down the field so I just threw it.”
Oconee had great field position a few plays later as Cedar fumbled the ball while trying to return a punt. Oconee quickly capitalized on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Wright to Johnson.
In addition to turning the ball over, the Jaguars hurt themselves with their lack of discipline.
The team earned a total of 15 penalties in the game, 11 of which was in the first half.
“We just have to keep practicing and working on the mistakes we made in order to improve,” Colbert said.
The defense was able to regroup on the next drive as Senior linebacker Kyrus Browner intercepted the ball to set up the Jaguars at the Warriors 35-yard line late in the second quarter.
“I knew I needed to give the offense another chance to score so using a defensive technique that we have been practicing, I was able to follow the ball the whole way,” Browner said.
The Jaguars were unable to put together a successful drive and were down by one at halftime.
On the Warriors second play of the second half, Wright connected with junior wide receiver Jack Ward for the 47-yard touchdown. They would later extend their lead on another long touchdown pass from Wright that went for 33 yards to Johnson, his second receiving touchdown of the game and fourth of the season. The Warriors extra point kick was no good.
The Jaguars responded on the very next possession as Glenn dove in for the five yard score which was set up by a 57-yard rush by Colbert. The extra point kick was blocked again however which left the score at 27-19.
While Colbert had a great game with 143 rushing yards and 54 passing yards, he was injury prone as he limped off the field in the first quarter with an apparent shin injury. He returned on the next possession but was carried on a stretcher after the game as he was dealing with heat exhaustion.
“I was having some discomfort early in the game but it is better. I am not carrying any sort of injury going forward,” Colbert said.
Cedar Shoals made one final push at the end of the fourth quarter which saw them make it into Oconee Territory before Glenn’s pass on fourth and four was intercepted by junior linebacker Kyle Strickland to seal the game.
Cedar’s defense held a powerful Warriors offense to just 27 points and turned them over three times. The weakness was in the secondary which was exploited for over 170 yards through the air, 79 of which came in just two plays.
The Warriors (2-0) will head to Billy Henderson Stadium next to face Clarke Central (0-1) who dropped their season opener against Buford. The Jaguars (0-1) will host St. Pius X Catholic (1-1), the triple-option running foe who held the Jaguars offense to just three points a year ago.
“The atmosphere is going to be electric and we are looking forward to getting the season back on track,” Colbert said.