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Jackson opens up offense -- a little -- to dominate Central
After a 48-21 loss to Jefferson City on Oct. 1, Jackson football coach Carl Gross said he had been too conservative and needed to continue to try to work in the passing game into his team's smashmouth offense.
The Indians did just that in the first half of a 35-6 rout of rival Central on Friday. Jackson quarterback Joey Starke completed 7 of 8 passes for 136 yards and four touchdowns in the opening half.
"We didn't throw it much, but we didn't put it on the ground," Gross said.
While the Indians may have only thrown the ball eight times in the game, all seven completions resulted in important gains. Besides the four touchdowns, one completion went for a first down on a fourth-and-long play, and the other two completions each went for nine yards.
Starke said performances like Friday's will help him continue to gain confidence within the offense.
"I had a tough time last week, but I feel a lot more confident now," Starke said.
Of course, Gross was not going to abandon his team's bread and butter. Much of the success of the passing game Friday night came with the help of another solid game from Jackson's two featured running backs.
Austin Bock carried the load in the opening half, rushing for 78 yards on 15 carries. In the second half, it was Meystedt's turn. He rushed for 66 yards on 11 carries.
"Those two guys are very similar," Gross said of Bock and Meystedt. "They both have hearts of lions."
Added Starke: "The running game obviously opened it up for us. We kind of sucked them in with the running game."
With both the running game and passing game at full tilt, Jackson's defense got its share of rest against the Tigers. When the Indians defense did take the field, it was causing havoc. Jackson picked off Tigers quarterback Garrett Stevens three times in the opening half.
Gross said with his offense taking large chunks of time off the clock, Central's offense was not able to get into gear during its short stints on the field.
"We were able to keep them out of rhythm. Our secondary was flying around," he said.
After wrapping up its ninth win over rival Central in the last 11 tries, Jackson will now look to reclaim the SEMO North Division crown with a matchup at Poplar Bluff this week. Jackson has not clinched a conference title since 2001.