Friday Football: Jays average nearly 20 yards per carry in first half vs. Owls

Jefferson City’s Anthony Seneker drags down Marshall’s Jaxson Case for a tackle during Friday’s Class 4 District 5 semifinal game at Adkins Stadium. (Ken Barnes/News Tribune)
Jefferson City’s Anthony Seneker drags down Marshall’s Jaxson Case for a tackle during Friday’s Class 4 District 5 semifinal game at Adkins Stadium. (Ken Barnes/News Tribune)

The Jefferson City Jays took pride in their blocking Friday night against the Marshall Owls in their 49-3 victory in the Class 4 District 5 semifinals at Adkins Stadium.

The Jays’ offensive line dominated and the wide receivers got in on the fun with downfield blocking, leading to Jefferson City tallying 391 rushing yards on just 20 carries (19.6 avg.) in the first half and 443 for the game.

The 391 rushing yards in the first half gives the Jays 875 in the first halves of their two postseason games, setting up a running clock for the entire second half of each.

“Dang, I didn’t really notice that at all,” Jefferson City lineman Jayden Roling said with a laugh. “I just kept to myself, did my job and made sure the running backs got through and scored touchdowns for us.”

Second-seeded Jefferson City made chunk gains in the running game look easy Friday night, ending with six 20-plus yard runs.

Bradarious Lewis started the explosive runs with a 47-yard carry on the first drive to set up a Kantrell Jordan 6-yard touchdown run to give the Jays an early 7-0 lead following the first of seven made extra points from Kendric Johnson.

And after a quick three-and-out, Jordan took his second carry of the game 87 yards to the house — thanks in large part to Johnson holding his block on Marshall’s cornerback nearly 50 yards down the home sideline to open the lane.

“That’s effort,” Jordan said. “We came here to dominate and he did that with that block. I love him for that.”

But that was not the biggest block of the night from Johnson.

Johnson found the perfect moment for another downfield block, as he was able to hit an Owl defensive back as soon as he turned toward him and sent him flying through the air and to the turf. Lineman Brody Smith followed with another pancake and Lewis was able to run all the way to the Marshall 3-yard line for a 46-yard gain.

“I was just waiting for him to turn his head and look at me so I didn’t get a block in the back,” Johnson said. “But when I saw him cut back, I knew it was my chance to get my first pancake.”

Jordan scored his fourth touchdown on his fourth carry on the next play after he followed his 87-yard score with an 80-yard touchdown run on the following series.

It was quite the return to the field for the senior as he went down with a concussion on the opening series of the regular-season finale and missed last week’s game. Jordan ended with five carries for 189 yards and four scores.

“It felt good, to be honest, it felt really awesome,” he said. “I couldn’t thank the team more for giving me the opportunity to come out here and do well.”

Lewis added the touchdown between Jordan’s final two scores, taking a misdirection draw 39 yards untouched to the end zone.

It was yet another play the Jefferson City offensive line ended up more than 15 yards down the field blocking defensive backs to clear lanes for the ball carriers.

“Blocking linebackers and lineman, they are pretty tricky,” Lowery said. “But those DBs, though, they don’t like contact. They are a little shy around contact. So when you actually get a DB a little too good, they will either fall on their back or run away from you. It’s kind of funny.”

Zach Barnes got the final 20-plus yard run of the game for the Jays as he ran into a 20-yard touchdown late in the first half to give Jefferson City a 42-0 halftime lead.

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Johnson said.

On the defensive side, Jefferson City was well prepared for Marshall’s split-back veer offense.

The Jays held the Owls to just 143 total yards and off the scoreboard until halfway through the fourth quarter when Erian Jones made a 34-yard field goal.

Jefferson City could often be heard yelling out if the play was going to be a run or pass just based off the formations Marshall lined up in.

“I would say we felt really prepared,” Roling said. “This whole entire week we’ve been calling out all their tendencies, all their plays as soon as they lined up. I felt like we were pretty prepared.”

With the victory, the Jays (7-4) move on to their third straight district championship game and will search for their first district title since 2009.

Jefferson City will match up with top-seeded and seventh-ranked Pleasant Hill (9-1). Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Pleasant Hill.

“We got to finish this one,” Jordan said. “Third time’s a charm. We got to get this one, for sure.”