Photos by Robert Smith
Story By Robert Wilson
FLOWOOD – Make it an even dozen.
Jackson Prep held off Jackson Academy three times in the second half and broke away with two scores in the final minute for a 30-10 victory to win its 12th straight game against its rival Friday night at Prep.
Prep hasn’t lost to JA since 2013 and improved its overall record in the series to 40-14. Prep improved to 5-1 and bounced back from last week’s 47-37 loss to defending MHSAA Class 2A state champion Taylorsville. Prep hasn’t lost an MAIS game since losing to Madison-Ridgeland Academy in last year’s Class 6A state title game. JA dropped to 4-3.
Prep senior quarterback Riley Maddox found senior wide receiver Jeffrey Ince behind the JA defense and connected with him on short pass then Ince ran the rest of the way to the end zone to complete a 54-yard touchdown pass for the winning score with 8 minutes, 28 seconds to play in the third quarter.
JA drove into Prep territory three times with a chance to the game in the second half. Prep stopped JA the first time and forced them to punt from the Prep 43. JA then drove to the Prep 17 and first and 10, but could only gain three yards on three downs and Scott Swalley had his 32-yard field goal attempt partially blocked (?) with 8:49 to play in the game. JA again got the ball in Prep territory, but Prep defensive back Luke Williams stepped in front of JA running back Marcus Woods for an interception at the Prep 13 with 6:13 to play.
Ince, who transferred from JA two years ago, put Prep up 24-10 with a 91-yard TD run with 1:02 to play. Then he added a 77-yard interception return off a tipped pass for a TD on last play of the game.
This was the first meeting between two of the most successful coaches in Mississippi history, Prep’s Ricky Black and JA’s Lance Pogue. Black is the second winningest coach in Mississippi history and won his 398th game, 260th game at Prep. Black has won 13 state titles since he arrived at Prep in 1997, seven straight until the loss to MRA last season. Pogue, in his first season at JA after three years as defensive coordinator, won a national championship and five state titles in 10 years at South Panola.
JA was hoping to end Prep’s winning streak in the series, but the Raiders could never get the lead. JA was hoping for big games from the Smith brothers, senior wide receiver Deion Smith, the No. 1 rated player in Mississippi and No. 7 rated wide receiver in the country, and sophomore wide receiver Dan Smith, one of the top players in Mississippi in his class. The talented duo came in averaging 24 yards every time they touched the ball. But Deion Smith, who has verbally committed to defending national champion LSU, and Dan never could break away for a big play. The two combined for 11 catches for 112 yards and two runs for 9 yards, an average of only 9.3 yards per touch.
Maddox ran for a 1-yard TD to complete a 63-yard, 10-play drive on the first series of the game to give Prep a 7-0 lead. Louie Gatlin added a 30-yard field goal for 10-0 lead in the second quarter and JA answered when running back Marcus Woods scored on a 3-yard run to cut the lead to 10-7 with 7:38 to play before halftime. JA’s Swalley kicked a 27-yard field for a 10-10 tie with 8:46 to play in the third quarter. Eighteen seconds later, Maddox found Ince for the go ahead TD pass.
Prep running back Matt Jones and Woods led their respective teams in rushing, both below their normal average. Jones had 81 yards on 15 carries and has 616 yards and nine TDs this season. Woods gained 79 yards on 24 carries and now has 624 yards and scored his 13th TD this season.
Senior Braedon Mabry led Prep with 10 tackles. Senior Parker Ryan led JA with 12 tackles.