Jeffersonville went out with a bang Friday night, closing out the regular season with an output on offense that included 44 points, 22 first downs and 461 yards of total offense.
The bang was the small – but loud – cannon that the Red Devils employ at Blair Field to celebrate a touchdown, it startled the neighbors six times in the first three quarters. By the time the offense sputtered in the fourth, Jeffersonville was up 24 points on the way to a 44-33 win over a surging Jennings County team.
Both teams move on to postseason play – Jeffersonville with a strong showing to build on while Jennings County hopes to improve on its six wins so far.
For Alfonso Browning, in his first year coaching the Red Devils, the win Friday night was part of a late season surge that bodes well for the post season.
“It felt really good (to get the win),” Browning said. “We’re starting to peak at the right time.”
Jeffersonville started the season at 2-3, but after a close loss to Floyd Central on September 18, the Red Devils have started to turn it around – going 3-1 to close out the season and now sport a 5-4 record.
One of the reasons – though not the only one as Browning is quick to point out – is junior quarterback Cam Northern. He ran on Jennings County (nine rushes for 50 yards and a touchdown) and put the game away with his arm (13 of 25 for 216 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions).
“We’ve got good players,” Browning said, referring the Northern and a slew of other Red Devils.
Against Jennings County, junior running back Jordan Barnett rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Sophomore Kameron Fuller added 70 yards on eight carries.
When the Red Devils weren’t employing the run, Northern went to the air and connected with senior wide receiver Brandon Coleman, who had eight catches for 152 yards and four touchdowns.
And despite notching a 30-yard touchdown run by Fuller and scoring passes of 63 and 45 yards, Browning took issue with the terms big play and quick strike when referring to his offense.
“To me, it’s like playing chess,” said Browning, who loves to play chess. “We take what the defense gives us.”
And sometimes the Jennings County defense gave up some big plays.
For the Panthers, who came into the game looking to gain some momentum going into the post season, it was just a matter of not making enough big plays – but they made a few.
Quarterback Garrett Day connected with Justin Pettit for touchdown passes of 63 and 17 yards. A trick play in the fourth quarter – Day passing to Matt Cornett who lateraled to Ethan Chandler, who then scored – made the final margin.
The Panthers also had a big-time running attack as well, Austin Grunden rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Which leads to the challenge the Red Devils will face in the coming week, how to shore up a defense that allowed 395 yards of total offense and 19 Jennings County first downs.
Browning has something to work with – when the offense sputtered, his defense made a key stop in the fourth quarter as Jennings County tried to mount a comeback.
Browning pointed to defense as the key to winning here on out: “I feel we can score,” he said. “We need to continue playing Red Devils football.”