For the first time since 2015 on Friday night, the Jackson football team fell in its season opener as the Indians lost to Edwardsville (Illinois) 41-34 in double overtime on their home turf — The Pit.
The last time Jackson lost a home game was in 2016 when it fell to St. Louis University in the final game of the regular season.
Perhaps what is the most devastating, though, is the fact the Indians hadn’t lost a regular-season matchup since 2017 when it fell to conference and district rival Poplar Bluff on the road. The Indians went on to win 39-straight games in the regular season after that loss to the Mules, along with capturing the Class 5 State Championship in 2020.
For the first 21 minutes of game action, Jackson had shutout Edwardsville by three scores at 20-0 after the Indians missed two extra-point tries and had a successful two-point conversion.
It took less than two minutes for the Tigers to answer after Jackson went up by 20, though, as Edwardsville senior running back Jordan Bush found the endzone from two yards out with two minutes, 56 seconds remaining in the first half.
Three other Tigers ended up scoring rushing touchdowns during the second half and overtime, whereas the Indians offense only scored once in the second half before the first overtime period.
In that duration, Jackson was without its leading rusher from last fall in senior running back Tony Williams, who produced a rushing touchdown and 57 yards off 14 carries all in the first two quarters. Williams didn’t return to the game due to an injury.
Taking the load at running back in lieu of Williams was junior Jason Goodman, who only played in a handful of games last fall after suffering a season-ending injury. In total, Jason finished with 45 yards and one rushing touchdowns on nine attempts.
The Indians offense also had inexperience at the quarterback position as senior Zach Calder started the game, but he was replaced by junior Adrian Fox on a few drives throughout the game. Calder still finished with 178 passing yards and three passing touchdowns while completing 61.5% of his throws (24-for-39).
However, on fourth-and-4 from Edwardsville’s 19-yard line in the second and final overtime, Calder was intercepted by Tigers junior outside linebacker Jaden Vonner to bring the game to a close.
Coming up big receiving for Calder was a trio of seniors Chase Fischer, Isaiah Davis and sophomore Kai Crowe. Davis hauled in two of Calder’s three touchdown passes along with 44 yards on nine grabs, while Fischer led Jackson in receiving yards with 73. Crowe came up with Zach’s longest touchdown pass of the game at 20 yards in the second quarter.
Calder’s final touchdown throw of the game was to Davis for nine yards in the first overtime period as Fox replaced Zach on the two-point try, which Adrian converted himself on the ground to give Jackson a 34-26 lead.
Edwardsville junior quarterback Jake Curry answered three plays later, though, with a 29-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Kellen Brnfre. Curry paced Calder with 169 yards and two touchdowns through the air, but he also scored once rushing the ball.
The Tigers had good balance between running and passing the ball as Bush finished with a game-high 69 rushing yards and one touchdown off 17 attempts. Curry came up with 46 yards running on his own, while backup running back senior De’Shawn Larson had 29 rushing yards and scored the game-winning touchdown.
Besides Jackson’s one turnover of the game — Calder’s interception — the Indians only converted on 33.3% of their third and fourth-down attempts. Jackson also received seven more penalties than Edwardsville throughout the game, which resulted in a loss of 80 yards.
One of those penalties occurred on what would’ve been a 32-yard touchdown run by Fox in the second quarter, but his offense was called for a holding penalty. This would’ve given Jackson its three-touchdown lead much earlier than when it took one with 4:50 left until halftime.
Jackson’s offense also failed to score when it received the ball at the Tigers 7-yard line, thanks to an acrobatic fumble recovery by senior defensive end Tony Terry Jr. The Indians ended up turning the ball over on downs after Calder was nearly picked off in the endzone.
Another reason why the Indians failed to come away with the win was by losing the time of possession battle by seven-plus minutes. Bush broke off a 21-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, while Curry had a 19-yard passing touchdown and a 6-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Even though Jackson’s defense gave up 40 or more points for the first time since 2018, the Indians still forced two turnovers, recorded nine sacks and also blocked two extra points, which proved to be vital since the fourth quarter ended in a 26-26 tie. Terry Jr. blocked one of those kicks and came up with two sacks on top of his seven tackles.
The other Indian coming up with a blocked PAT was senior inside linebacker Griffin Horman, who finished with a team-high 13 tackles, one tackle for a loss and one sack. Also recording double-digit stops for Jackson’s defense were junior outside linebackers Titus Jackson and Fisher Stevens, who had 11 and 10 tackles, respectively.
Steven also came up with two sacks of his own as did fellow junior nose tackle Reid Landers. Fellow junior defensive lineman Cole Foltz and Trenton Rollet also had one sack apiece for the Indians.
Next up for Jackson (0-1) will be a road game against Francis Howell (1-0) this Friday night, which is coming off a 45-0 win over Ft. Zumwalt North (0-1).