Creek Wood dominated Jackson North Side for a 35-21 victory Friday night in the first round of the TSSAA playoffs.
Michael Harris struck the first blow for Creek Wood as the Red Hawks took their first possession of the night and fled all the way down the field as Harris found the end zone on a 10-yard rushing touchdown to give Creek Wood the 7-0 lead.
After Jackson North Side failed on a fourth down, Creek Wood took possession of the ball but punted quickly. After that punt, Jackson North Side fumbled and Creek Wood took over deep in enemy territory at the Jackson 9-yard line.
Elijah Donaldson scrambled away from initial Jackson pressure and found Raekwonn Nesbitt in the corner of the end zone giving Creek Wood the quick 14-0 lead.
Creek Wood’s defense, again, held Jackson North Side to a short possession and the Red Hawks’ offense was in business once again. It didn’t take long for Donaldson to lead Creek Wood down the field and find the end zone on a quarterback run. The score was 21-0 at that point with over nine minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Both teams shared a few possessions but nothing much came of it as Creek Wood forced a Jackson North Side fumble with three minutes remaining in the second quarter and ran the clock out to take the 21-0 lead to the half.
On its first possession of the second half, Jackson North Side looked like a completely different team. Indian quarterback Demahri Wallace found a teammate for a 26-yard touchdown pass and finally got on the board to cut the lead to 21-7.
The next, and possibly most important, drive for Creek Wood would result in a strong answer to Jackson’s first score. Michael Harris once again found the end zone on what looked to be the same play that scored his initial touchdown earlier in the game. Creek Wood was able to respond and take a few minutes off the clock, which appeared to really take any momentum away from Jackson North Side.
By the end of the third quarter, Creek Wood had a 28-7 lead and the ball.
The Creek Wood offensive line was able to rebound from a tough game last week against Springfield and open up running lanes most of the night against a big Jackson North Side defensive line.
“Our offensive line, at times, struggled last week but I thought tonight, they were a highlight,” Creek Wood Coach Houston Thiel said. “That’s a really good defensive front for Jackson North Side.”
That Creek Wood running game was content with wasting the clock and taking small chunks of yards until Bailey Deason got on the board with his first touchdown of the evening thanks to a 21-yard rush to put the nail in the coffin.
Wallace, the Jackson North Side quarterback, showed off his athleticism throughout the rest of the fourth quarter including an 80-yard rushing touchdown and composing a late drive to add another score but it was far too little, way too late for Jackson North Side. Creek Wood was able to hold off Jackson and take the 35-21 victory.
“I’m just a really proud coach tonight,” Creek Wood Coach Houston Thiel said. “They really worked hard and deserved this win. We were able to bounce back after a tough week last week and really just from the opening horn we went to work.”
“It’s been a historic year for us,” Thiel added. “It’s the first 10-win season, which is big, and I’m just really proud. We’ve got a lot of guys here who are team first. They just want to win in any way possible; none of these guys are seeking the limelight. They just want to make plays and win ball games. When you have guys like that it’s easy to coach and it’s easy to love these guys.”
Next week, Creek Wood will advance on to face Lexington. Lexington defeated White House 34-7 in its first game of the TSSAA playoffs. Earlier in the season, Lexington defeated this same Jackson North Side team 24-14.
“We just have to get back in there and get back to the drawing board,” Thiel stated. “We just have to figure out whatever we have to do to move the football.”