Jackson defense leads way in 21-7 win over Vianney

Saturday, September 15, 2007

JACKSON, Mo. -- Jackson's offense was having trouble finishing off drives, allowing Vianney to hang dangerously close to the Indians Friday night.

So Jackson's defense decided to take matters into its own hands.

After that, it was lights out for the visiting Golden Griffins from St. Louis.

The Indians' defense scored one touchdown and came up with a fumble to set up another TD during a 14-point run late in the third quarter that broke things open.

Jackson wound up with a 21-7 victory that was more dominant than the score indicates as the Indians improved to 3-0.

Jackson defenders Antonio Garritano (99) left, Kevin Pridemore (97) and Tyler Martin (52) sacked Vianney quarterback Dalton Hewitt on Friday night in Jackson. (Kit Doyle)

"We made some mistakes, but overall we played good," Jackson coach Carl Gross said. "It was a good win for us."

Despite spending much of the first half in Vianney territory, the Indians led just 7-0 at the intermission.

When Jackson's second offensive possession of the third quarter ended on downs at Vianney's 16-yard line, it looked like more of the same for the Indians.

But after one incompletion, Jackson defensive back Matt Lang intercepted a pass by Vianney's Dalton Hewitt, eluded several defenders and raced 32 yards for a touchdown with 5 minutes, 26 seconds left in the period, making it 14-0.

"It felt good to score there," Lang said. "It was a big turning point."

On Vianney's ensuing possession after the kickoff, linebacker Drew Bucher sacked Hewitt and forced a fumble that defensive end Adam Collier recovered at Vianney's 15-yard line.

Three plays later, tailback Cody Randen ran six yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 3:29 remaining in the quarter.

"The defense turned the game for us, and then thank goodness we finally put one in the end zone," Gross said.

About the only blemish for Jackson's defense was that Vianney avoided a shutout by scoring with a little more than a minute left in the game against the Indians' backups.

"You always like to get the shutout," said Lang, who also kicked all three extra points for the Indians and averaged 35.6 yards on five punts. "But overall we played such a good game."

Until Vianney's late scoring drive, the Griffins (2-1) had no first downs and minus two yards of total offense in the second half.

Vianney, which had scored 76 points in its first two games behind its spread offense, wound up the contest with 201 total yards. The Griffins crossed midfield just twice all night.

"They fly to the football," said Gross of his defense, which pitched a shutout in the season opener. "They're really a determined bunch."

Jackson junior tailback Adam Zweigart and his offensive line were also plenty determined.

Zweigart, taking advantage of big holes all night, rushed for 213 yards on 27 carries as the Indians gained 290 yards on the ground overall.

"It's all the line and my fullback {250-pound Andy Winkleback}. I would have nothing without them," said Zweigart, who scored Jackson's first touchdown on a 6-yard run on the Indians' opening offensive possession.

Jackson guard Brian Hill, a 275-pounder, said he and his linemates -- guard Ryan Kessinger, tackles Ethan O'Connell and Kyle Schutte, and center Ray Bucher, who all go at least 230 pounds -- appreciate the compliment.

"We want our backs to look good. That's our goal," Hill said. "I felt like we played good as a line."

So did Gross, who had few complaints other than the fact the Indians could not take full advantage of their numerous opportunities. Jackson failed to score on eight drives inside Vianny territory, including four inside the 25-yard line.

"We could have scored a lot more points," Gross said. "But our offensive line knocked them off the ball and the fullback blocked good."

When Jackson marched 56 yards on just six plays on its first offensive possession to lead 7-0 less than four minutes into the game, it looked like things might be easy for the Indians.

They eventually were -- after the big assist from the defense.

"When the defense scored and then got the ball back for us right away, I was so pumped," Zweigart said.

Jackson 21, Vianney 7


First Quarter

J -- Adam Zweigart 6 run (Matt Lang kick)

Third Quarter

J -- Lang 32 interception return (Lang kick)

J -- Cody Randen 6 run (Lang kick)

Fourth Quarter

V -- James Gladstone 18 pass from Dalton Hewitt (Hewitt kick)

First downs1216
Passing yards14425


RUSHING -- Vianney, Chris Starkey 14-43, Mike Walsh 5-14, Hewitt 7-6, Jeff Schoor 1-minus 6. Jackson, Zweigart 27-213, Randen 11-50, Andy Winkleblack 8-25, Daniel Abernathy 1-8, DeMarcus Huddleston 1-3, Marcus Harris 5-minus 9.

PASSING -- Vianney, Hewitt 13-29-2-144. Jackson, Harris 3-8-0-25, Zweigart 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING -- Vianney, Gladstone 7-76, Dan Borders 3-49, Schoor 2-14, T.J. Scheetz 1-5.

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