Murphysboro outscores A-J
For the second week, the Anna-Jonesboro Community High School football team let a lead slip away in a 27-23 loss to host Murphysboro Friday, Aug. 31.
“We’ve got to do better on defense,” A-J coach Brett Detering said. “We had breakdowns on our defense and gave up the big play.”
With a 16-13 halftime lead, the Wildcats fumbled opening kickoff in their own territory to open the third quarter.
“You can’t make those mistakes in a close game,” Detering said.
Two plays later, the Red Devils’ Zane Caraway scored on an 18-yard run.
The extra-point kick was off the mark and the Red Devils took a 19-16 lead with 11:07 remaining in the third quarter.
The Wildcats bounced right back to take the lead. Quarterback Conner Jerolds scored on a 13-yard run at the end of a lengthy 14-play drive.
Noah Treece kicked the extra point and A-J led 23-19 with 4:23 remaining in the quarter.
The Red Devils were forced to punt on their next possession.
A-J’s drive then stalled on an incomplete pass on a fourth down play.
Murhysboro’s next drive was halted and forced a punt. A-J’s ensuing drive stalled to also force a punt.
On the punt to the Red Devils, Hunter Meade made a 46-yard return to move the ball to A-J’s 23-yard line.
Two plays later, Caraway scored on a 5-yard run. Quarterback Jamarr McZeke made the conversion points run to boost the Red Devils to a 27-23 lead with 2:40 remaining in the game.
Murphysboro then attempted an onside kick and Nick Sanders recovered for A-J at midfield.
The Wildcats wasted little time driving down field.
However, with no time outs remaining and the clock down to 10 seconds, the Wildcats drove to the 8-yard line before quarterback Jerolds was halted after a one-yard gain to end the game.
The game didn’t begin well for the Wildcats.
Jake Hoppenstedt made a 56-yard run to move the ball to A-J’s 35-yard line.
Two plays later, quarterback McZeke connected on a 15-yard touchdown pass to Dezmond Clark.
Max Hoem’s extra point kick put the Red Devils ahead 7-0 with 11:01 remaining in the opening quarter.
Devon Toliver then moved the Wildcats to midfield on a nifty kickoff return.
Twelve plays later, Nate Kisat scored on a 5-yard run. Reed Morrison ran in the two-point conversion and A-J moved ahead 8-7 with 3:57 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Red Devils’ next drive stalled when Wyatt Johnston picked off McZeke’s pass.
On the ensuing drive the Wildcats lost the ball on a fumble.
McZeke then connected with Meade for a 70-yard TD strike. The extra point kick was off and Murphysboro led 13-8 with 1:27 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Wildcats came right back. After an 11-play drive, Quarterback Jerolds made a 13-yard TD pass to Luke McMahan.
Kisat made the conversion point run and A-J led 16-13 with 8:40 remaining in the first half.
The Wildcats’ defense came though in the waning seconds of the first half and stopped Caraway on a fourth down and short yardage run.
“We’re probably four or five plays from being 2-0,” Detering said. “We’re not able to make the plays when we need to.”
Jerolds led A-J’s 214 yard rushing attack with 79 yards on 24 carries. Damian Chrisp had 50 yards on 20 carries. Kisat added 26 yards on 8 carries and Morrison had 35 yards on 4 carries.
Jerolds was 4 of 8 passing for 45 yards with Kisat leading the way with 29 yards on 2 receptions.
“We’ve not had that explosive play,” Detering said. “We’ve not been able to do that this year.”
Despite the loss, Detering remains optimistic.
“We’ve got a long season to go and we’ve got to stay on top of it,” Detering said. “Our kids played with great effort. “