EATONVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) _ In a Region 8-2A football game that came down to the final horn Thursday night, North Forrest High School coach Anthony Dillon left the field livid.
East Marion High School coach Kevin Jackson exited relieved.
In a battering-ram of an evening between 2A’s two Eagles, East Marion made a 12-play drive in the first quarter stand up for an 8-0 road victory.
The win not only wrapped up the regular-season schedule for East Marion _ the Marion County team has a Nov. 1 open week _ but it also clinched a region championship for the returnees to Class 2A.
“We knew if we came in here and could win this game, we would be (region) champs, so that’s what the focus was all week,” said Jackson, who saw his Eagles move from Class 1A back to 2A this season. “Coach Dillon and I are good friends, so there’re no hard feelings.”
Actually, Dillon was furious, but more at a number of penalties that cost his Eagles dearly, including an offensive pass interference call on the game’s penultimate play and a game clock that started running off the final 25 seconds as soon as the ball was placed after the penalty rather than snapped.
“We’re not the type of team that can give people extra chances or not take (advantage) of ours,” Dillon said. “We had our chances, but we didn’t take them, and you can’t do that against a good team and expect to win.”
East Marion, which won its sixth consecutive game, took advantage on its opening possession of the game, rubbing 7 minutes, 24 seconds, off the clock.
Freshman running back Jaddareus Mallard went around the right side for a 6-yard touchdown run, and senior quarterback Devin Daniels capped the game’s only scoring drive with a 2-point conversion pass.
Mallard finished with 91 yards on 12 carries. Daniels netted 76 yards on 15 carries, but lost 42 yards on sacks or falling on bad snaps.
Daniels gained 46 yards on four carries the 64-yard drive, including a 10-yard run on a 3rd-and-9 and a 12-yard run on 4th-and-9 at the North Forrest 27-yard line.
“On that fourth-and-long, three people missed the tackle,” Dillon said.
North Forrest (3-6, 1-2) had its best chance to score in the third quarter, driving to a 2nd-and-goal from the 2-yard line. But a false start pushed the ball back to the 7-yard line, a batted-pass completion to sophomore quarterback Tyrell Pollard lost another 4 yards.
A lost yard on a run and an offsides penalty on East Marion left North Forrest a 4th-and-goal at the 6, but Pollard’s off-balance, desperation pass was intercepted by sophomore Amere Woodham.
East Marion had a chance in the waning minutes to put the game on ice, but a penalty on a 4th-and-2 at the North Forrest 9-yard line was followed by a 1-yard loss.
With 1:25 left to play, Pollard found junior Ellis Brown on a 42-yard wheel route, and eventually had a first-and-10 at the East Marion 31. But the offensive pass interference call waved off a completion inside the 15-yard line, and Pollard was sacked on the final play of the game.
“Hats off to our defense,” Jackson said. “They’ve played well the past couple weeks, and they did the same thing (Thursday). To be able to keep that bunch out of the end zone for four quarters was an outstanding job.”
North Forrest, which has clinched a spot in the Class 2A playoffs, will wrap up the regular season at 7 p.m. on Nov. 1, traveling to Perry Central High School.
The Bulldogs will visit Collins High School tonight before wrapping up with the Eagles the following weekend.