Could they do it again?
That was the popular question when the Indians fell in a 22-12 hole late in the third quarter of a Class 5, District 1 game Friday against Parkway West.
But despite a comeback that put the Indians in the lead midway through the fourth quarter, the magic of Jackson's comeback win over Parkway Central a week earlier was not there against the Longhorns, who got an 80-yard touchdown run from Chris Jackson to pick up their first district win 28-26.
"We did this last week," Jackson quarterback Tyler Profilet said, "and when we got down, we knew we could come back."
Jackson's district title hopes remained in its own hands after Parkway Central defeated Francis Howell on Friday. But Jackson must win Friday at Francis Howell to have a chance.
Friday's game against the Longhorns (2-7) was rocky early for the Indians. On its first offensive possession, Jackson (4-4) botched a punt snap that gave Parkway West a short field to work with.
Kyle Mach took advantage of Jackson's mistake and hit Doug Dwyer on a 12-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead.
"The last couple of weeks, we haven't been mentally ready and they've scored early," Jackson defensive lineman Tyler McNeely said.
Jackson dominated the rest of the first half. Profilet and fullback Aaron Randolph had touchdown runs for Jackson for a 12-7 halftime lead. Jackson outgained the Longhorns 186-30 in the first half.
After halftime, Parkway West's Jackson returned the opening kickoff to inside the Indians' 25-yard line. He scored on a 10-yard run soon after, and a couple of possessions later he took a screen pass 25 yards to give the Longhorns the 22-12 lead.
Not shaken after Parkway West's quick scores, Profilet led the Indians on a late third-quarter drive to bring Jackson within a touchdown. Profilet completed his third consecutive pass of the drive to a wide-open Derek Miller for a 55-yard score. A two-point conversion later, the Indians were within a field goal.
Jackson's defense came up with a couple of big stops to start the fourth quarter and put the ball back in Profilet's hands. He completed the comeback by hitting Neal Grossheider for a 24-yard touchdown.
Jackson's lead didn't last. A couple of plays later, the Longhorns got their third touchdown of the second half from Jackson and took the lead for good.
"That big play hurt us," McNeely said.
A pass interference call on Parkway West gave the Indians the ball deep in Parkway West's territory with a little more than six minutes to play. After failing to get in the end zone on three tries from the 6-yard line, Jackson went for the field goal and the lead with three minutes remaining.
Kamden Rampley's kick was blocked, and the Longhorns took over from their own 25.
Gross said going for the field goal was not a hard decision.
"You've got to go with the odds there," he said.
The Longhorns ran down the clock with three runs and gave Jackson one last try to get in the end zone. After a couple of completions, Profilet threw four straight incomplete passes to end the game.
"We played hard enough to stick around," McNeely said, "but our coaches and our players thought we should beat them."
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