A-J scores four TDs in second half on way to win
Photos by Tiffiny Dillow for The Gazette-Democrat.
With the game tied 14-14 at the half, the host Anna-Jonesboro Community High School footbal team erupted for four touchdowns in the second half on its way to a 43-14 win at The Pit over host Murpysboro Friday night, Sept. 1.
“We made a slight adjustment at half,” A-J coach Brett Detering said. “We ran a little different formation and our option game got going. When we work our option well it puts defenses in a bind. For us, it’s not predetermined who has the ball.”
The A-J running attack tallied 214 total yards on the ground. Fullback Jayce Turner led the way in the backfield with 92 yards on 20 carries. Quarterback Bryce Osman, who had two yards rushing the first half, erupted in the second half for 80 yards and finished with 82 yards on 15 carries.
The Wildcats took charge early in the second half. Arieh Hart received the opening kick off to open the third quarter and A-J took over at its own 33-yard line.
Osman then capped an 11-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Red Devils were called for an offsides violation on the extra point kick, which moved the ball to the 1-yard line. A-J then changed strategy instead of an extra point kick and Osman was able to score the two-point conversion on a run.
A-J took a 22-14 lead with 6:29 remaining in the third quarter that it would not relinquish.
“We scored on that first drive and got momentum back on our side,” Detering said. The A-J coach said that momentum “changes and that’s part of it and our kids were able to seize it back.”
Murphysboro started from its own 31-yard line on the ensuing kickoff. Quarterback Gavin Topp fumbled the football and Dylan Cunningham recovered for A-J.
Five plays later, Osman connected with Hart for a 30-yard TD pass.
Jaryt Tripp’s extra point kick pushed A-J ahead 29-14 on the opening play of the final quarter.
Murphysboro’s Topp fumbled again on its ensuing drive and Turner recovered for the Wildcats.
“In the middle of the third quarter they had some problems holding on the football,” Detering said. “They didn’t score in the second half because our kids took care of fumbles. Our kids certainly took advantage of the opportunities that were there.”
Turner scored on a 15-yard run to cap a five-play drive.
Tripp’s extra point kick put the Wildcats ahead 36-14 with 8:15 remaining in the game.
On the Red Devils’ next drive, Topp was sacked for a big loss by A-J’s Damien Chrisp to thwart the drive.
A play later, the Wildcats’ Reid Morrison recovered another Red Devil fumble.
Hart then scored on a 1-yard plunge to cap a three-play drive.
Tripp’s extra point kick closed out the scoring with 5:26 remaining in the game.
A final Murphysboro fumble was recovered by Conner Jerolds in the waning minutes of the game.
The Wildcats looked impressive in their opening drive of the game.
A-J drove 55 yards and Turner capped a 12-play drive with a 1-yard TD run.
Tripp’s extra point kick put A-J ahead 7-0 with 4:24 remaining in the opening quarter.
“It’s a good thing we got off to a good start,” Detering said. “
We put together a game plan and I felt our option game put them in a disadvantage.”
A-J’s Noah Smith intercepted a Topp pass to thwart the Red Devils’ next drive.
After the Wildcats were forced to punt, Murphysboro’s offense started clicking.
Korey Blythe scored on a 4-yard run at the end of a 9-play drive. Max Hoem’s extra point kick knotted the game 7-7 with 10:10 remaining in the second quarter.
The Wildcats’ Hart took the ensuing kick off at the 12-yard line and scrambled 88 yards untouched for the score.
Tripp’s extra point kick put A-J on top 14-7 with 9:58 remaining in the first half.
With Blythe leading the way on the Red Devils’ next drive with a 43-yard run, Topp passed to Jake Hoppenstedt for a 7-yard TD pass to cap a 12-play drive.
Hoem’s extra point kick knotted the game at 14-14 with 3:24 remaining in the first half.
The Murphysboro drive appeared stalled on a fourth down at the goal line.
“We had a chance to get a stop,” Detering said. “They got that fourth down by inches.”
The Wildcats drove to midfield before the first half ended.
“In the second quarter, we didn’t do a good job of defending their running game,” Detering said. “We didn’t have the ball very much then.”
However, the Wildcats made up for their miscues in the second half.
Murphysboro had five fumbles and lost four, while A-J had three fumbles and lost one.
Osman was 2 of 2 passing for 42 yards with no interceptions. Hart had a 30-yard reception and Turner had a 12-yard catch.
Hart led the way for A-J with three TDs, including a 1-yard run, 30-yard pass reception and the 88-yard run.
“I was pleased with how we played,” Detering said. “There were a lot of good things what we did.”