Jaguars claw past Ben’s Ford, 35-12

Published 10:55 pm Friday, September 16, 2016

After a rough start, the Ben’s Ford Eagles got their passing game going in the second half, but still fell to visiting Wayne Academy 35-12 Friday night.

Ben’s Ford faced adversity before the game even kicked off. Its regular head coach, Robert N. Cook, is battling a health issue and was unable to be on the sidelines Friday. In addition, senior running back and linebacker Andrew Smith, one of the team’s leaders, was injured and unable to play.

“We had a few distractions coming into this game and it might have affected us early,” Ben’s Ford assistant coach Chuck Williams said. “But I was proud of how we came out in the second half and started to put some things together.”

The Eagles (1-4) trailed 35-0 at halftime to the Jaguars, who are coached by former Ben’s Ford coach Cole Holden. Holden served as head coach the past two years and was offensive coordinator the year before that.

“It was definitely mixed emotions,” said Holden, of his return to Ben’s Ford. “It was strange to be on the visitors’ sideline, but it was great to see some of my old players again. I watched them grow up and was proud to be their coach.”

Rough special teams play doomed the Eagles early. On their first punt attempt of the game, the snap was bad and the Eagles were unable to recover the loose ball. Wayne’s Seth Robertson recovered it in the endzone for the Jaguars’ first touchdown. The two-point conversion run failed, as Wayne led 6-0 with 7:42 left in the first quarter.

On the Eagles’ next punt attempt, the snap was again poor, but punter Jeremiah Slocum was able to cover the loose ball at the Ben’s Ford 27. On the very next play, Wayne quarterback Gunner West completed a touchdown pass to Brayden Doss. West completed a two-point conversion pass to put the Jaguars ahead 14-0 with 6:18 left in the first quarter.

“When you make mistakes like that early, it really makes it hard to get into a rhythm,” Williams said.

Wayne scored three more touchdowns in the first half — a 2-yard pass from West to Doss, a 13-yard run by Doss, and a 2-yard run by Robertson. Robertson’s run came with just 27 seconds left in the second quarter.

Prior to Robertson’s run, Ben’s Ford put together a strong drive as the Eagles advanced the ball from their own 32 to the Jaguars’ 19. But a lost fumble ended the threat with 1:30 left in the second quarter.

The Eagles got on the scoreboard quickly in the second half. Facing first-and-5 from the Wayne 44, quarterback Tyler Winstead ran down to the Jaguars’ 34 but was shaken up on the play. Slocum replaced him at quarterback, and on his very first play, Slocum threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Miller.

Slocum was sacked on the two-point conversion, cutting Wayne’s lead to 35-6 with 8:06 left in the third. Slocum played the remainder of the game, as Winstead was injured and did not return.

“Tyler got hit pretty hard and wasn’t able to go back in the game,” Williams said. “We don’t think it’s a concussion, but you have to be safe. I thought that Jeremiah did a good job when he got in there.”

Slocum also completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Justin Moore with 58 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

After the game, Holden credited the Eagles for completing some long passes against his team’s defense.

“They were able to gash us pretty good in our secondary a few times,” he said.

Ben’s Ford returns to the road next Friday, as the Eagles travel to face Copiah in a non-district game.