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Devils down Jackson in season opener

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By BILL SORRELL

JACKSON–Germantown Head Football Coach Chris Smith had a message for his team after it was pressed four quarters by improved Jackson North Side.

“I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty,” Smith said after a 38-6 victory in the season opener on Friday in Jackson.

“It is just a vibe. I think we could have handled adversity a little better. It didn’t feel like it was 38-6 on our sideline. I think our kids’ standards are so high which can be a good thing but you also have to handle adversity and be able to battle. I thought they gave us a good test in that area. North Side was a pretty tough team at home. We had to fight to the end.”

The Red Devils (1-0) expect a bigger test when they host arch-rival Houston (1-0) at 7 p.m. this Friday.

“We have got a better team that we are playing. They are looking to come out and beat us,” said Germantown quarterback Ethan Payne.

Against North Side, the Red Devils were in the red zone four times but failed to score. Smith said his team could have done a better job finishing drives, special teams could have made some tackles in space better and communication could have been better.

“We had some silly stuff happen. We miscommunicated on a few things that we usually hit on,” he said. “They fought through even though they were tired a bit. It wasn’t perfect like they imagined it but they came out and still got the win on the road at a pretty tough place to play. I thought it was a good first night.”

A blocked punt early in the second quarter gave the Red Devils “wiggle room” that added to an 8-0 first quarter lead. Outside linebacker Tyrec Collins would block North Side punter Kavis Grider twice during the game.

Jamal Frazier took the ball to the 25 before Payne threw a 10-yard pass to Cameron Baker. Payne then hit Baker with a 12-yard touchdown with 10:20 left in the second.

“That was pretty big in the red zone area,” said Smith.

Germantown tackled North Side quarterback Kameron Farrington in the end zone for a safety with 7:35 left in the first and later recovered a fumble on the North Side 49. Frazier ran 25 yards for a touchdown with 2:11 left in the first.

The Red Devils finished with two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.

Facing a 3rd and 16 at their 36-yard line, the Red Devils stretched the lead to 22-0 when Payne threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Baker. Marshall Ware kicked his second PAT of the first half with 5:45 left.

“We made a couple of big plays when they counted. We competed,” said Smith.

Payne said, “They came out and hit us in the nose a little bit that first quarter. We had to wake up.”

Trailing 22-0 at halftime, North Side head coach Jesse Powell told the Indians it was still a ball game.

“Let’s get the 22 points back and get to the fourth quarter.”

North Side got points in the third quarter. Haynes Holt, who had 11 rushes for 101 yards, ran 71 yards for a touchdown with 7:28 and the Indians were within 22-6.

“They felt like they can actually play with this team and it showed in spurts,” said Powell, who is in his first season.

Farrington had 18 carries for 107 yards.

“The offensive line did some good things. I was proud of my defense. It played well all night. It got tired and worn down because it was on the field all night,” said Powell.

A 22-yard touchdown run by Jalon Greer with 11:10 left in the fourth stretched the lead to 28-6. The drive was fueled by runs by B.J. Gardner and Eric Foster.

Payne scored a touchdown on a 9-yard run with 6:09 left and Gardner ran the 2-point conversion and it was 36-6.

Germantown ended its scoring the way it began, a safety.

With North Side at its 4 after the kickoff, a bad snap from center to Farrington got him tackled in the end zone, adding to the Red Devils’ margin with 3:47 left.

Game highlights included Farrington’s 22-yard run in the first quarter that got the Indians to the Germantown 47. His 26-yard run in the fourth quarter got to the Germantown 36.

Punts by Ware, including a 50-yarder in the second quarter, put the Indians at their 3 twice.

Baker had 11 receptions for 195 yards and two touchdowns.

“Once the ball touched his hands, it’s like ‘Geez, he’s gone, gliding across the field,” said Payne, who completed 17 of 31 passes for 261 touchdowns and two touchdowns.

“He had a really good night. He made some big plays for us,” said Smith of Baker.

Payne said that Gardner and Frazier “did really well” and played “tough.” Gardner rushed for 132 yards on 21 carries and had 148 total yards offense. Frazier rushed for 71 yards on 9 carries. The total rushing offense was 222 yards on 35 carries.

“We can always go back to the run game. We have pretty good success with that. We would pound the run, pound the run. Then we would have a pass. Pound, pound, pound, pass. A good mix,” said Payne.

With 68 plays on offense, the Red Devils had 483 yards averaging 8.4 yards per attempt. They ran 53 percent of the time, passed 47 percent.

The offense was generated behind a line that had Curt Garrett at right tackle, Nick Ferri at right guard, Cole Cocroft at center, Toney Hastings and Jairus Mitchell at left guard and Charles Tony-Egbuniwe and Michael Goodwin at left tackle.

Smith cited Ferri and Garrett among top offensive players.

The Red Devils defense was stellar with 19 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 blocked punts and allowing the Indians no passing yards.

K.J. Hatch had 12 total tackles with 9 solo, 3 assists, 3 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble and 0.5 sack. Kendal Badgett finished with 9 total tackles (6 solo, 3 assists), 1 tackle for loss. Ashton Pachucki had 2 solos and 3 assists, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss, 1 pressure. Collins had 3 tackles for loss, one pressure, one forced fumble and a recovered fumble.

“The defense did a really good job,” said Smith. “Tyrec Collins had a really good game.” Smith added nose tackle Trey Boyd and lineman Duke Hill to the “pretty good game” list. Defensive ends Jordan Kirby and Pachucki and lineman Brandon Meadows

added to a “tough defense.”

“They are fast. They are penetrators. They are not the biggest but they fight really hard. They do their assignments,” said Smith.

H-back Conner Richardson said, “What clicked for me was being well prepared to play the game. I was very confident going into the game. What clicked for the team was our run game and defense making key stops.”

Taking away from the game, Greer said, “We can be very great if we clean up some mistakes. I played very well.”

The fact that the Red Devils had to play four quarters will help in conditioning for Houston.

“We hope we got the jitters out. Now these younger guys have a game under their belt. I think the team understands what we need to do going forward to get better,” said Smith, telling his team although they are 1-0, the new week of practice ushers in a 0-0 record.

Smith said the Red Devils need to make improvements citing eliminating controllable mistakes of jumping off sides, miscommunication on fires such as running too far and improved tackling.

“The first game of the year we didn’t expect it to be perfect. There were mistakes. We beat them 38-6 but we could have beaten them worse than we did. There were some times that things did not go my way. I got frustrated,” said Payne.

Powell was frustrated by mistakes.

“We made too many mistakes early and late to beat a good football team. You can’t have mistakes like that and expect to win. We would have liked to have seen how the game would have been if we had not made so many mistakes. The self-inflicted wounds surprised me most,” said Powell, who played nose tackle at Tusculum University.

The Indians did have defensive standouts in Dekylan Genesy with 9 tackles (6 solo). Three players had 7 tackles each: Xavier Long (4 solo), Mason Robinson (3 solo),

Jamari Poindexter (4 solo). Julius Jackson had 5 tackles (3 solo) and Jason Sneed 4 (2 solo).

Tahjae Johnson and Jordan Williams each had a sack. Johnson had 3 pass break-ups. Williams also had a fumble recovery.

The Red Devils learned from their win.

“We can learn we always have got to play our best and hardest. When you do you always tend to win,” said Payne.

Greer said, “We won ugly but a win is a win. We have to get better every week. “

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