Cougars, Tigers play Friday night classic

Two big special team’s touchdowns proved to be the difference as No. 7 (Class 2A) ranked Jonesboro Hodge defeated Cedar Creek 28-26 Friday night at Cougar Stadium.

Head coach Matt Middleton talked earlier in the week about the J-Hodge offense, but the Cougars defense stood tall. Despite winning, J-Hodge totaled only 161 yards of total offense in the game. However, it was the Tigers special teams that made the plays.

“We are better,” said Middleton. “Nothing can change my mind on that. I know we are a good football team. We only have three seniors. J-Hodge has a bunch of them. We are resilient. We are going to bounce back. We are going to come back next week and get after it. It’s been a challenging week, but I will take these kids any day. We are going to bounce back, and we are going to make a run.”

Devontae Mozee scampered 73-yards on a punt return for a score early in the first quarter and then the Tigers (6-1) opened the third quarter with a 76-yard kickoff return for a TD as the Cougars dropped their third heartbreaker of the season.

After Mozee gave J-Hodge the 7-0 lead, Cedar Creek marched 63-yards on a run-oriented, clock-controlling drive that took more than six minutes off the clock as Ladd Thompson scored on a 7-yard run with 3:33 remaining in the first quarter. Davis Long’s extra point was partially blocked and the Tigers led 7-6.

Creek took it’s first lead of the game with 8:35 to play in the second quarter as Carson Riley scored on a 1-yard plunge, capping an 11-play, 54-yard drive. Long’s extra point made it 13-7 Creek.

J-Hodge quarterback Tydre Malone struck next, scoring on a 30-yard TD run on a fourth down play with 6:32 to play in the second quarter as the Tigers once again led 14-13.

AJ Thomas scored on a nine-yard TD run with 3:49 to play before halftime. The run capped another long scoring drive as the Cougars marched 62 yards for the lead at 20-14.

Malone answered right before halftime, hitting JaMarriyea Lewis on a 38-yard scoring strike with 1:24 to play before halftime. J-Hodge led 21-20 at the break.

Brantrel Thompson opened the second half with a 76-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as the Tigers upped their advantage to 28-20.

The Creek defense would keep the dangerous J-Hodge off the scoreboard over the final 23-plus minutes, giving the Cougars an opportunity to respond.

Caden Middleton found Bryce Rushing on a 6-yard TD pass with less than a minute to play in the third quarter to close the gap to 28-26. Middleton was 2-for-7 for 38 yards in the game with the one TD pass.  The Cougars gained 277 yards of total offense, including 239 on the ground.

The potential game-tying two-point conversion was no good as the Tigers held the two-point lead entering the final 12-minutes of play.

Cedar Creek had three more offensive opportunities, including one in the final three minutes but a fourth down and 12-pass play was incomplete as J-Hodge ran out the clock.

Jed Worthey ran 24 times for 107 yards and the one score in the game.

Creek will travel to Oak Grove next Friday.

Photo: Darrell James (