DECATUR, Alabama -- Jevon Jackson had two huge third quarter touchdown runs to lead #7 Austin to a big win over #5 James Clemens in a Class 7A Region 4 game at Black Bears Stadium Friday night. Trailing by one point in the third quarter, touchdown runs of 33-yards and 53-yards propelled the Black Bears to the big win.
This was James Clemens first region loss since 2017 and Austin was ready to redeem themselves after two losses the last two years. "We had to come out with some redemption in this game," said Black Bears running back Jackson. "We had to get them here after losing to them by a close game last year at their place."
With the win over James Clemens and Florence last week, Austin holds the region tie breakers over these top two Region 4 teams. "I'm proud of our guys and we fought through adversity," said Black Bears Head coach Jeremy Perkins. "We ended the first half poorly and started the second half with a pick-6 and trailed for the first time in the game but bounce back after that point and took control of the game. Thought we won in the trenches that made the difference for us."
Austin (4-0, 2-0) scored first in the game. Quincy Crittendon hit Tre Shackelford in the back of the end zone on a 15-yard touchdown pass play for the Black Bears. With the score Austin led 7-0. With 7:19 left in the second quarter, the same Crittendon-Shackelford combination struck again on a 10-yard touchdown pass play in the right on the the goal-line pylon. With the score, Austin led 14-0 and was making it look easy. "We connecting perfectly, Quincy is my dog," said Black Bears receiver Shackelford. "We train out side of school and so are connection is big that is what we work on together. Quincy will give me that look and signal me during the game on something he sees the corner lining up. He gives me the route and I trust him on knowing what coverage they are in. This was big for our senior class to get this win over James Clemens. We want to get this championship."
Things continued to roll for Austin last in the second quarter. A long Crittendon to Braylin Boulden setup the next Black Bear score. With 2:58 left in the half, Jackson scored on a 10-yard touchdown run. The extra point was missed but Austin led 20-0. With the defense forcing punts and turnovers on downs, it looked like this game was going to get out of hand but James Clemens turned it around quickly.
James Clemens (2-1, 1-1) took the ensuing kickoff and marched right down the field. With 1:38 left in the half, Connor Cantrell found Manny Sanders behind the Austin defense for a 38-yard Jets touchdown. With the Aaron Rowe extra point, James Clemens cut the lead to 20-7 but the Jets were not finished in the first half. After forcing a three and out, again the Jets drove down the field and on a 4th and 10 at the Austin 30-yard line, Sanders broke free in the middle of the field and Cantrell found him. Sanders layed out for the touchdown catch and with on :31 seconds left in the half, James Clemens only trailed 20-14 and took some momentum in the locker room with these last two scores.
With 9:49 left in the third quarter, James Clemens takes their first lead of the game on a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive back Jamal Mayers. Mayers had two interceptions in the game. With the score, the Jets led 21-20 for the first time in the game but then Jackson and his offensive line took over the game.
With 7:26 left in the third quarter, Jackson went on a crazy 33-yard touchdown run hurdling Jet players and escaping tackles. Also, Jackson scored on the 2-point conversion. With the scores, Austin took back the lead at 28-21 and didn't look back from this point of the game. On the next Black Bears possession, Jackson does it again scoring on a 53-yard touchdown run that was just as good or better than the first long run slipping defenders on his way to the end zone. "I take pride on carrying the ball or my team," added Jackson. "I want to be the workhorse for them. When I get in the secondary, I don't want anyone stopping me from getting there. After that my athleticism takes over. We executed the wildcat offense. We brought some of those dogs from defense and the O-line played great. Everyone played a part in getting this win. This was a great team win." Jackson finished with a monster game rushing for 208 yards on 22 carries with three touchdowns.
James Clemens showed some fight that they were not giving up. With 10:54 left in the fourth quarter, Gio Lopez scored on a 3-yard touchdown run and the Austin lead was trimmed to 35-28. On the Austin next possession, Crittendon ran a big gainer for deep in Jets territory and a few plays later, Crittendon faked a hand off and found tight end Boulden wide open in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown pass. With the score, Austin went up two scores 42-28 to close out the game. James Clemens were driving late in the game but Austin turned them away on downs to close out the win. Crittendon completed 13-of-17 passing for 195 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions with 115 yards on 12 carries.
Most of the game, James Clemens tried to run the ball on short third and fourth down plays in the middle of the Austin defense, but defensive lineman Jalik Malone and company turned the Jets away in the ground game for most of the night. "It took three of them to block me and it still didn't work," said defensive lineman Malone. "I love being a run stopper that getting a sack. This is a big win for us, I believe we are heading in the right direction. We keep getting better each week. Our goal is to be region champion." Malone finished the game with eight tackles, two TFL and a sack in the game. A pretty good night for the talented D-lineman. "He is a force, he is a heck of a player," said Perkins. "We know that cause we have to go against him everyday in practice and we have a hard time running against him. He is very athletic and can get down the line to make plays."
Up next, Austin will travel to Sparkman while James Clemens will host Huntsville on a Thursday night game.