Big plays doom Eagles against Jacksonville

By Matthew Martin/Sports Correspondent

  The big play continues to haunt Hokes Bluff.

The Eagles opened Class 4A, Region 5 play with a tough 40-20
loss to Jacksonville in high school football action last Friday (Sept. 6).

Hokes Bluff kept the game close in the opening
half, trailing 21-13 at halftime, but the Golden Eagles used a pair of long
runs to blow open a tight game in the third quarter.

In the season opener on Aug. 29 against Southside, Hokes
Bluff allowed several big plays that cost the Eagles a chance at a win.

“Those count,” said Hokes Bluff coach Mike
Robertson, about the big plays. “I thought we played hard again and I
think we made some improvement, but [Jacksonville is] just so explosive.
Everyone in this region has a big back, it seems. But we didn’t tackle real
well. We’ve got to tackle people. We were in the right places, but we just
missed the tackle.”

Jacksonville quarterback Jackson Bell started the onslaught
with a 51-yard touchdown run. The long scamper increased the Golden Eagle lead
to 31-13 with 5:47 left in the third quarter.

That score came just minutes after Maxwell Thurmond, Jr.,
started the second-half scoring for Jacksonville on a 23-yard touchdown run on
its first second-half possession.

Following a scoreless Hokes Bluff possession, Jacksonville
went back to scoring with another explosive play.

Running back Dominique Thomas took a handoff and outraced
Hokes Bluff defenders to the end zone for a 65-yard scoring run. The touchdown
increased the Golden Eagles’ lead to 40-13.

Hokes Bluff was able to answer with one final score late in
the game when Jake Ingram found the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown run with
2:20 remaining in the game.

The first half, however, was a totally different story, as
Hokes Bluff limited Jacksonville’s big-play ability while almost matching the
Golden Eagles play-for-play.

After Jacksonville’s Thomas opened the scoring on a 5-yard
run, Hokes Bluff used a long kickoff return to begin its drive deep in
Jacksonville territory.

On the drive’s second play, Sam Cole rumbled in for an
11-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 with 8:27 left in the first

The Golden Eagles answered to retake the lead on their next
possession with a 14-play, 79-yard drive. The
series took 4:45 off the clock and culminated in a 4-yard keeper by Bell. The
touchdown run gave Jacksonville a 14-7 lead with 3:35 left in the first
quarter, a lead the Golden Eagles would not relinquish.

On the next Jacksonville possession, Bell found Thurmond on
an 11-yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 21-7.

Hokes Bluff answered on its next possession, an 11-play,
68-yard drive that ended with Chase Beggs’ 7-yard touchdown run with 6:32 left
in the first half. That score came three plays after the Eagles were able to
keep its drive going on a big fourth-and-6 play when Hokes Bluff quarterback
Cole Williams hit Beggs for a 7-yard pass down to the Jacksonville 9-yard line.

“We moved the ball, at times, but we couldn’t score
more than 20 points,” Robertson said. “When you’re playing against
good teams, you can’t make mistakes and not tackle. But, believe it or not, I
think we improved from last week (loss to Southside). We’ve just got to keep
trying to get better. The kids are trying, we’ve just got to keep

Beggs led Hokes Bluff with 96 yards rushing and a touchdown
on 25 carries.

Williams completed 7-of-17 passes for 105 yards.

Hokes Bluff continues region play Friday when the Eagles
travel to Alexandria.


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