Photos by Robert Smith
Story by Robert Wilson

Sophomore quarterback Clayton White, making his first high school start, completed two touchdown passes to All-American senior wide receiver Deion Smith and Marcus Harris scored two TDs to lead Jackson Academy to a 34-0 victory over Northeast Lauderdale Friday night at JA.

JA, 2-2, bounced back from its 20-10 loss to defending MAIS Class 6A state champion Madison-Ridgeland Academy last week. Northeast Lauderdale dropped to 0-2. JA has beaten Northeast Lauderdale eight of 10 meetings since the two schools started playing in 2011. Northeast Lauderdale is the first MHSAA school JA had played in football.

White, a MRA transfer who replaced injured starter Jackson Conn, completed 5 of 10 passes for 111 yards with no interceptions. White scrambled and then found Smith open in the end zone for a 15-yard TD in the second quarter to give JA a 24-0 lead. On the fourth play of third quarter, White lofted a high pass that Smith ran under, made an over the shoulder catch, kept his balance and ran 30 more yards into the end zone to complete a 65-yard TD pass play. Smith, a Provine High transfer who is rated as the No. 1 player in Mississippi and the No. 7 wide receiver in the nation by 247 Sports, caught three passes for 92 yards and had a 57-yard run on the first play from scrimmage for JA in the first half. Smith averaged 37.2 yards per touch. Harris gained 125 yards on 13 carries and scored on runs of 7 and 20 yards, both in the first quarter.

Sophomore kicker Scott Swalley kicked field goals of 43 and 45 yards, his career long, and four extra points to complete JA’s scoring.

JA limited Northeast Lauderdale to 133 total yards, only four yards passing. Junior linebacker JT Thigpen led JA with nine tackles. Senior linebacker Caleb Hernandez had seven tackles, one sack and one interception. Senior linebacker Donovan Veasley had six tackles and senior linebacker Parker Ryan and junior linebacker Banks Whittington had five tackles each. Whittington also had a fumble recovery.

“I’m not surprised that our players bounced back,” JA coach Lance Pogue said. “I’m proud of this team and we played well tonight and showed how well we can play. We’ve got a lot of talent and potential and need to keep improving each week. Northeast Lauderdale had some big guys and we took it too them. Clayton played a great game, he managed the game well and made some big throws. I’m very high on him and has a bright future. Clayton gained a lot of confidence tonight. Deion showed how tough he was tonight when he took a tough lick early in the game and got back in there. He’s very talented, but he also has no fear. He’s going to be a great player for us this season.”