Photos by Robert Smith
Madison-Ridgeland Academy’s stingy defense, led by Under Armour All-American Stone Blanton, limited Jackson Academy to 141 total yards, only 96 in the final three quarters to rally for a 20-10 victory Friday night at JA.
MRA, the defending MAIS Class 6A state champions, improved to 3-0 and won its 10th consecutive game over the past two seasons and 27 of the last 30 over the past two and half seasons. The Patriots have won 13 consecutive games and 23 of the last 24 against MAIS opponents.
Blanton, a junior linebacker, had 13 tackles, senior free safety Rayf Vinson had 12 and senior defensive lineman Jude Alderidge 11 for MRA, which didn’t allow any points in the final three quarters. Vinson had Aledridge each had three tackles for losses.
“We stopped the run,” said MRA coach Herbert Davis, who won his 199th game Friday night in his 24-year coaching career. “We held up against Deion (Smith, JA’s top receiver) and their guys.”
MRA rallied from a 10-6 halftime deficit with 14 second-half points. Vinson, who also plays running back, scored on runs of 3 yards with 4 minutes, 35 seconds to play in the third quarter and 12 yards with 11:15 to play in the game. Junior kicker Landen McGee kicked both extra points.
MRA kept the lead with a stout running game. The Patriots had 248 rushing yards, J.J. Latham had 82, Vinson 74 and Taylor Latham 71.
“We took some good steps tonight,” first-year JA coach Lance Pogue said. “MRA has a good group. Some people might have through they would have had a running clock on us (when a team gets ahead by 35 points), but we hung in there. We led at halftime (10-6) and we had two touchdowns called back on the same drive (by penalties). If we could have gone ahead 17-6, we would have put some pressure on them.”
Three of JA’s top offensive weapons, quarterback Jackson Conn (knee), running back Marcus Harris (wrist) and wide receiver Deion Smith (leg cramps) left the game in the second half. Smith, rated as the No. 1 player in Mississippi and the No. 7 wide receiver in the country by 247 Sports, made his debut at JA after transferring from Provine. Smith caught five passes for 28 yards. Smith caught 43 passes for 1,059 yards and 19 TDs last season.
“Deion hasn’t played a game since last fall and he’s only practiced four times,” said Pogue, whose Raiders dropped to 1-2 and lost for the second straight week. “He’s got to get in football game shape. We missed him several times early on passes. You can tell Deion is a great athlete. He will be fine.”
MRA took a 6-0 lead when senior quarterback Zach Beasley scored on a 4-yard run with 7:19 to play in the first quarter. JA answered with a 42-yard field goal by junior Scott Swalley with 5:41 to go in the first. Lardarius Webb, Jr. recovered an onside kick and JA scored on that drive when Conn ran for a 3-yard TD.