Mendenhall Tigers defeats Jefferson CountyBy MARLAN JONES,
The Mendenhall Tigers were back in action last Friday after notching their first win two weeks prior. They defeated Jefferson County in a game that came down to the wire, and then took a much needed bye week to prepare for district play.
The Tigers opened the second half of the season at home against the Newton County Cougars and looked dominant in their 38-14 victory. It was a delight to Tiger fans to see the team put together 4 quarters of solid football on both sides of the ball. It should not have been much of a surprise, because the team has shown steady improvement from week to week. Entering the seventh week of the season it appears the Tigers are turning the page.
Running back and linebacker Javaris Walker was not able to suit up, but the Tigers had another playmaker in TJ Hobbs return from injury this game. The Tigers started the game on defense and surrendered a touchdown on the opening drive. Newton County had success with their rushing attack and drove the ball with relative ease. The Tigers offense wasted little time responding following the kickoff. On their first play from scrimmage, Reggie McLaurin scampered around the left end for a 58 yard touchdown. This set the tone for the entire game. The Tigers extra point was no good and they trailed 6-7.
Momentum carried over into the Tigers defense. Defensively the team was opportunistic. After giving up a first down the Tigers looked to create a turnover. On the next handoff, several defenders met the ball carrier to secure the tackle. Chance Barron managed to punch the ball free forcing a fumble and the Tigers recovered. The offense stalled on the next drive, and was forced to punt. However the punt bounced off a Newton County player and was recovered by the Tigers. This led to another big play by McLaurin. McLaurin took a handoff up the middle, and steam rolled two would be tacklers, in route to a 48 yard touchdown. The two point attempt was no good and the Tigers led 12-7.
The defense was firm on the next possession and forced Newton County to punt. McLaurin continued to be a nightmare for Newton County defenders. McLaurin gashed their defense for a 55 yard run before being pushed out of bounds at the 5 yard line. Javeon Dampier scored his first points of the season, after finishing off the drive with a 5 yard touchdown carry. The Tigers took an 18-7 lead after a failed two point conversion.
The defense continued to be stingy, and surrendered very little to Newton County. The offense took over and was firing on all cylinders. Following a big run by Keshun Collier, DK Jenkins connected with TJ Hobbs on a slant route for another touchdown. Following the two point conversion the Tigers led 26-7. On defense the Tigers continued to create turnovers. After the defense forced another fumble, Keshun Collier scooped up the ball and returned it for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 32-7 lead going into halftime. McLaurin was well past the century mark in yards by halftime. He entered the locker room with over 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Following halftime the Tigers came out flat and went four and out. Newton County took advantage of the opportunity and drove the ball down field for a touchdown and extra point making the score 32-14. It wasn’t long before the Tigers woke up and continued to dominate. A Keshun Collier speed sweep led to another touchdown, and cemented the final score at 38-14.
The Tigers started district play on the right foot, and are continuing to improve. Defensive Coordinator Derrick Jenkins was proud of the defensive performance. He said the team has consistently been working tackling drills, and focusing on creating turnovers. Jenkins said, “We’ve really just been working the basics and drilling basic football fundamentals.”
Head Coach Chuckie Allen said, “We’re getting better, and we see it after getting those first 5 out the way. We played better at the quarterback position, and we were able to get our tempo going.” The Tigers have looked their best this season when playing with an up tempo pace. As DK Jenkins continues to mature at the quarterback position the Tigers offense will steadily evolve. Allen said, “We’re showing steady progression and we got to keep getting better every week. We have to grow up, mature, and keep fighting.” Allen expressed that the team is right where it needs to be with a 1-0 district record.
The Tigers next game will be this Friday at home against Richland.