By James Beasley
One of the signs displayed in the end zone at Jackson Prep last Friday night read, “We are JP. Dominate and Devastate.” Unfortunately, that phrase became a reality before the evening was over as the Patriots overwhelmed the Copiah Academy Colonels 55-0 in Flowood.
Many fans suspected that it might be a long night for the visitors. After all, CA was 0-3 coming in, while Prep was 3-0 and coming off an easy win over the Forest High School Bearcats.
The Colonels held their own against the Patriots in the early going, but Prep finally got on the scoreboard when Wade Meena intercepted a Copiah pass and ran it back 22 yards for a touchdown. Westin Graves added the PAT giving the Patriots a 7-0 lead with 8:54 left in the opening period.
Prep scored again two minutes later as Zach Williams fielded a CA punt and ran it back 42 yards for a TD. Graves kicked the PAT, and the Patriots led 14-0 midway through the quarter. Early in the second period, Graves capped a 63-yard drive with a 31-yard field goal that upped the lead to 17-0.
Moments later, Luke Simmons dove on a Copiah fumble at the CA 15-yard line, setting up quarterback Ryan Buchanan’s 11-yard TD run that increased Prep’s lead to 24-0. On the ensuing series, the Colonels got their initial first down as Dillon Martin made a juggling catch of a 15-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Ryan Drew.
After forcing a CA punt, the Patriots started another drive, only to have it end when Thomas Roberson made a diving interception at the Copiah 20 midway through the second quarter. The Colonels got another break four plays later when Bryce Berry pounced on a muffed punt near midfield.
Prep got the ball back with 2:49 remaining in the half and marched downfield thanks to the arm and legs of quarterback Ryan Buchanan, who has been widely recruited by a number of colleges, including Ole Miss. CA’s Alex Skinner and Thomas Roberson sacked the highly touted quarterback for a 7-yard loss in the waning seconds, and Prep settled for a 21-yard Graves field goal and a 27-0 halftime lead.
The Patriots broke the game open as Williams returned the second half kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown and a 34-0 lead. Then on the first play of their next series, Buchanan connected with Richard Baird for a 57-yard TD, increasing the margin to 41-0. Ian McGraw added another score as he raced 59 yards for another TD. Parker Caracci kicked the PAT, and Prep led 48-0.
Conner Ball scored the Patriots’ final touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard run following an 8-play, 52-yard drive.
Prep dominated the stats as well as the final score. The Patriots had 186 yards rushing and 136 yards passing, compared to Copiah’s 11 yards and 37 yards, respectively. Defensively, Alex Skinner led the Colonels with 7 tackles, followed by Doug Strait with 4 tackles. Unfortunately, CA had several significant injuries: Ty Quick (possible mild concussion), Mason Boone (knee), Dillon Martin (hamstring), and Dillon Holloway (heat exhaustion).
“I thought our defense played well in the first half,” Copiah head coach Scotty Cline said afterwards. “Without the turnovers, it could have been 10-0 at halftime. Unfortunately, it’s a 3-phase game, and we allowed too many big plays. I’m actually more pleased tonight than I’ve been at some of our other games.”
“We weren’t doing as well in the first half,” confirmed longtime Prep coach Ricky Black. “I don’t know whether that was because of our offense or Copiah’s defense. But we scored on the second half kickoff and showed more intensity from that point.”
Prep (4-0) will travel the short distance to Pearl High School this Thursday night, where they will face the Pirates in a private school-public school matchup. Meanwhile, the Colonels (0-4) will try to get their first win of the season at Leake Academy this Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM in Madden.
By James Beasley