MANCHESTER, Mo. — The Jackson football team provided three hours of comfort for its coach Friday night.
The week had been a challenging one for first-year coach Van Hitt. He and his team suffered a heart-breaking one-point loss in the season opener last Friday. And he was involved in a motorcycle accident Tuesday morning, breaking his collarbone.
He was in a sling on the sideline Friday, but felt no pain as his Indians defeated Parkway South 38-14.
Things did not start well for the second week in a row for the Indians. Riverview Gardens scored on the first play from scrimmage last week. Parkway South did one better as Javon Coleman ran back the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
"I was thinking I hope this is not going to be another Riverview game," Jackson senior Mitchell McCulley said.
In that game, the Rams followed with numerous big plays. But the Jackson defense was stellar from beginning to end Friday.
The Indians defense caused five turnovers and gave up just one score, and that came on a one-play, 15-yard drive after a Jackson turnover.
"We talked all week about being focused out there," McCulley said. "We fell short last week, and we wanted to go out and get after it tonight. We did a good job of reading our keys, we wrapped up on the ball carriers and we didn't let anybody get behind us."
Patriots standout running back Kevin McGrew, who rushed for over 150 yards against Saint Louis University High last week, scored on the 15-yard touchdown, but that was his only run of over eight yards.
On the other side of the ball, the Indians were effective with their Wildcat offense.
Adam Zweigart lined up in the shot gun and took a direct snap. He would finish the game with 35 carries for 190 yards.
"Using that offense gets Adam into space where he can be effective," Hitt said. "He is a deceptive runner and hard to bring down."
Zweigart did the dirty work on two first-quarter drives, but it was Cole Rodgers who got the ultimate rewards with touchdown runs of 2 and 3 yards.
The play of the game came from the Jackson defense as McCulley raced 65 yards for a touchdown after intercepting a pitchout from Patriots quarterback John Barnabee midway through the second quarter.
"It was an option to my side of the field," McCulley said. "Our outside linebacker [Rodgers] spun the quarterback around. I came up to try and help on the tackle. He tried to pitch it and I was right there. I grabbed it and never broke stride the rest of the way."
Jackson had a chance to stretch its lead, but Rodgers was stopped at the goal line on the last play of the first half. It was eerily similar to the 2-point conversion try last week when Rodgers was stopped a foot short.
The Indians had a 21-7 halftime lead, although it was a far from perfect half for the Indians. They had nine penalties and two bad snaps on punts that gave Parkway South great field position.
But Jackson's defense came up big as it did all night.
Morgan Johnson's 27-yard field goal was the only scoring of the third quarter and gave Jackson a 24-7 advantage.
McGrew scored early in the fourth for Parkway South. The Indians had another turnover, but once again the defense held, with McCulley knocking away a fourth-down pass.
Jackson followed with a time-consuming drive that featured Rodgers. He would score his third touchdown of the game with 3 minutes left.
Ryan Marble closed out the scoring with a 22-yard touchdown run with less than a minute to play.
"We were focused and came ready to play, which we did not do last week," Hitt said. "The defense had a great game and really held a legit back in check. And I have to give credit to our young offensive line. They continue to get better."
Jackson, which plays its third straight game in the St. Louis area next week against Gateway Tech, improved to 1-1. Parkway South fell to 0-2.
@z_agate_no tab_no indnt_bld ld:First quarter
PS — Javon Coleman 90 kickoff return (Scott Sommerfeld kick), 11:46.
J — Cole Rodgers 2 run (Morgan Johnson kick), 9:49.
J — Rodgers 3 run (Johnson kick), 7:19.
J — Mitchell McCulley 65 pass interception (Johnson kick), 5:38.
J — Johnson 27 field goal, 9:46
PS — Kevin McGrew 15 run (Sommerfeld kick), 10:21
J — Rodgers 13 run (Johnson kick), 3:00.
J — Ryan Marble 22 run (Johnson kick), :34.