Jacksonville tripped up by Sulphur Springs in a defensive battle

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Aug. 27—SULPHUR SPRINGS — It was all gas and no brakes for the Jacksonville and Sulpher Springs defensive units in Friday's season opener that was played at Gerald Prim Stadium in Sulphur Springs.

In a game that ranked as one of the lowest scoring in East Texas — perhaps the lowest of any — Sulphur Springs was able to get past the Indians from Jacksonville, 21-6.

Trailing 12-0 after three quarters of play, Jacksonville pulled to within a touchdown when Koda Canady hauled in a 43-yard touchdown strike from Ryan McCown with 9:33 to go in the contest. Canady, who has verbally committed to Lamar University, beat his man near the end zone and the rest was history.

After a bad snap on the point after touchdown try by Jesus Nunez, a Sulphur Springs player was able to get in and block Nunez' kick, which was scooped up by Riley Hammons and returned for two points.

The knockout punch came with 5:24 to go in the game when Wildcat signal caller Brady Driver hooked up with Jaxson Haire for a 25-yard touchdown reception. Jacksonville's Kaden Franklin blocked the PAT try — his second blocked PAT of the evening, which put Sulphur Springs up, 21-6.

Jacksonville had two opportunities to get points in the third segment, but came away empty handed on both occasions.

The Tribe drove from their ownt 43-yard line all the way down to the Wildcat one, but the Sulphur Springs defense kept Jayden Boyd out of the end zone on fourth down.

On its next possession, the Indians marched the ball all the way down to the Sulphur Springs 17 yard line, but a Nunez field goal try from 34 yards out missed it mark, and again Jacksonville had no points to show for its efforts.

The home team scored in its first possession when Malachi Roland carried the rock in from 21 yards out at the 8:08 mark of the first frame. Roland was the game's leading rusher (15-103).

Roland visited the end zone again when he motored 31-yards around the left side of the line for a touchdown with just over two minutes left in the opening half.

The story of the night for the Tribe was the vast improvement that the Jacksonville defense has made since last season when Jacksonville gave up just under 40 points a game.

Although Sulphur Springs outgained the Indians 306 total yards to 231, the Indians held the Wildcats to 125 total yards in the final half and put the brakes on Roland, holding him to 8 yards on 10 carries in the final 24 minutes.

Devarion Boyd had a noteworthy game for the Indians. He tackled the Sulphur Springs ball carriers for a loss on each of the 'Cats' first two plays of the second half and had several other key stops.

Canady had his name called over the public address system for his play in the defensive backfield for the Indians.

McCown, one of 27 seniors on the Jacksonville roster, led the team in rushing (8-41), with Devin McCuin, who has verbally committed to Texas San Antonio, catching six passes for 64 yards while Canady had two grabs for 50 yards.

Jacksonville turned the ball over three times (interceptions) while the Wildcats played a mistake-free game.

The game featured the debut of head coaches Jason Holman for Jacksonville and Brandon Faircloth for Sulphur Springs.

The Indians will host Whitehouse in the home opener at the Historic Tomato Bowl next week. The Wildcats topped North Forney, 47-30, on Friday at Wildcat Stadium.