“Got to keep grinding” — Jaguars beat Walnut Grove 14-6

After three losses and a bye week, the Jags finally got their first win in an ugly 14-6 battle against Walnut Grove on Friday night.

“It feels good, that first win of the season,” senior offensive lineman Cemarious Kay said. “But we have to keep grinding because not everything was perfect.”

Immediately, the Jaguar offense went downhill. Following a defensive stop, the Jags’ first possession started from the Warriors’ 40-yard line. Miscommunication and penalties haunted the offensive line, forcing head coach Leroy Ryals to waste all three timeouts on a single fourth down play.

“We have to get better on the offensive line. We weren’t getting lined up. We had some false starts. These penalties show that we are undisciplined and have a lot to work on,” Ryals said. 

Unable to set the game in motion, the Jaguar offense remained quiet, failing to capitalize on ideal field position, and was held scoreless until the second quarter. 

“We have to execute better. We got in the red zone four times but only came away with 7 points in the first half,” Ryals said.

In the second quarter, the Warriors took the lead with a 19-yard rushing touchdown from Reid Fagan following a Jaguar fumble. A missed extra point by Walnut Grove kicker Zach McDaniel left the score 6-0, and the Warriors would not score again. 

The Jags responded immediately, marching down the field before capping off the drive with a 14-yard rushing touchdown by senior quarterback Anthony Hubbard.

After a Warrior fumble, the offense failed to capitalize again with a three-and-out to end the half.

Star wide receiver Devin Hester had a quiet game, only totaling three receptions, gaining a total of 54 yards. 

“We’ve got to throw it to our guy,” Ryals said. “We can’t throw it into the ground, we can’t get sacked because of a missed block, it’s mental errors.”

With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Jags were deep in Warrior territory. Hubbard tried to get it to Hester in the endzone, but Warrior cornerback Josh Peart picked off the underthrown pass.

Instead, the Jaguars’ best weapon was the running-back tandem of junior Taiwan Green and senior Kayden Scott.

“I want to use both of them going forward, but I also want to utilize Scott elsewhere on the field,” Ryals said. 

The duo rushed for 94 yards, with Green carrying a majority of the load for 73 yards on 20 attempts to Scott’s 21 yards on four attempts. Scott played more snaps on defense as a linebacker and got a shot at quarterback in the first half.

Room to Improve: Junior runningback Taiwan Green celebrates after scoring against Walnut Grove. The Jags regrouped after their bye-week, “We have to mix the rushing and passing plays. And when we can’t throw it we have to be dominant at the line of scrimmage. We’re getting there,” Head Coach Leroy Ryals said. Photo by Ethan Greene.

With just under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Jags got the ball after a Warrior punting error from McDaniel. Facing third down after consecutive penalties, Green broke free for a single-yard rushing touchdown, extending the lead to 14-6.

Throughout the game, the Jaguar defense dominated the Warriors. Only allowing six points, the squad forced several turnovers including a forced fumble by senior edge rusher Devon Harper and an interception by senior cornerback Jace Williams.

“They did what we asked them to do; execute our game plan and play hard,” Ryals said.

On top of his forced fumble, Harper also recorded two sacks, one of which set up the Jags’ scoring drive in the fourth quarter. 

Walnut Grove still had just over two minutes on the clock and made steady progress down the field, but an overthrown pass on fourth down sealed the Jaguar victory.

Holding the Warriors to only six points, the Jags allowed the fewest points by any opponent since 2019, when Jerdavian Colbert and Jaheim Wilson led Cedar Shoals to a 59-0 victory against the Warriors.

The Jags will look to carry their momentum to their next matchup this Friday at East Hall. 2-2 on the season, the Vikings are coming off a blowout loss to rival North Hall.

The Jags have won the last two meetings and outscored the Vikings 91-29. Last year, the Jags trampled the Vikings 49-21, rushing for 276 yards and three touchdowns.

This year, Cedar will have to find a way to contain the Vikings’ sophomore quarterback Jamarcus Harrison, who ranks 21st in the state in total yardage. His weakness, however, is his throwing accuracy, as he has completed just 52% of his pass attempts and has thrown five interceptions.

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are available on GoFan for $8

Ethan Greene

Senior Ethan Greene is the Sports editor for Cedar BluePrints this year. He runs an Instagram photography account, attends car races, and writes about sports for BluePrints. He enjoys being able to work alongside his friends and the opportunity to get a more thorough analysis of sports.

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