With plenty of rushing power, Montgomery Bell Academy can start to flex its muscles as it journeys into the home stretch of the football season.
Pushing each other hard in practice and shining brightly in games, seniors JeTarii Donald and Gary Jackson are the mainstays of a relentless1-2 punch.
Their combination provides a dynamic force, which makes the Big Red a formidable foe as October — and the final three games — arrives, starting with a huge showdown Friday at rival and nationally ranked Ensworth.
Both backs scored two touchdowns and rushed for more than 100 yards each as MBA (5-2, 2-1 in DII) thumped rival Father Ryan 28-3 last Friday following the 68th annual Spaghetti Supper night at MBA homecoming.
“With the offensive line blocking like that, it was like we were running downhill the whole game,” Donald, who finished with185 yards rushing in just nine carries.
Added Jackson, who gained 117 yards in six attempts: “We are constantly pushing each other in practice. We trust our offensive line, those guys have been great.”
The two didn’t wait until halftime, which featured a spectacular 20-minute fireworks display provided by Beaman Automotive. Donald and Jackson provided some major fireworks of their own in the second quarter.
Jackson bolted for a 53-yard touchdown, capping a two-play, 94-yard drive on which Donald rambled for the first 41. The 22-second drive gave MBA the lead for good, 7-3. Jackson then rushed for a 34-yard score.
“We are in a race with each other to see who can gain the most yards, but it’s a friendly competition,” Donald said. “We want to keep playing hard, working hard, see how far we can go.”
After holding Ryan to a three-and-out, Donald zipped in for a 65-yard, one-play scamper which took 10 seconds. In the third quarter, he bolted off left tackle untouched for a 45-yard score, capping the scoring.
“We’re both seniors and in our last year, we want to take our team to the championship,’’ Jackson said. “We know if we get a little daylight, either of us can take it the distance.’’
MBA racked up more than 400 rushing yards, behind a huge offensive line, a decisive factor for the Big Red. Michael Lacey added 59 yards in just two carries, making a nice cutback for a 51-yard gain in the final quarter.
Alternate QBs: Coach Marty Euverard continued to shuffle quarterbacks. Senior Dylan Hall played mostly the first half, and sophomore Cole Euverard the second.
Both were content to hand off the ball almost exclusively to their speedy running backs. They combine for four passes and finished with identical stats — 1-for-2 for 43 yards.
Anthony Birdsong caught the Hall pass in the first half, and Austin Rolfe caught the second-half pass from Euverard.
MBA now has beaten the Irish 17 straight times (three in the playoffs). Ryan hasn’t beaten its rival since the DII state championship game in 1997.
With this win, MBA narrowed the DII-AA Middle/East race down to three teams — Ensworth (ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Super Prep Poll), Brentwood Academy and itself. All three won Friday.
Ensworth is 4-0, BA 3-0 and MBA 3-1.
MBA is trying for some revenge against Ensworth, which beat the Big Red 52-10 last year. Since Ensworth began playing MBA on the varsity level in 2007, the two-time reigning state champion have won four of seven meetings.
“It’s going to be a huge game Friday but we have some momentum [with four straight wins],” MBA leading tackler Franklin Garstin said. “We’ll have to go over there and play well, and I think we will.
“We’ve been playing really well recently, especially our running game and our defensive line. Our whole team is looking forward to the challenge.”
• Franklin Road Academy knocked off Donelson Christian Academy 24-10, its first win in the series since FRA’s state championship year of 1991 (a streak of 20 games). Quarterback Matt Hissong threw for two touchdowns and 170 yards.
• Christ Presbyterian Academy and Maplewood both won their district games last week to remain unbeaten in District 10-AA play and setting up a showdown for first place between the two on TV-30 Thursday Night Lights game this week. CPA, ranked third in the state, is 6-0 overall, 2-0 in region play. Maplewood is 5-2 and 4-0.
• Lipscomb’s boys easily won the District 10-A/AA golf tournament last week, claiming both the team title and the top three finishers in medalist play. Junior Dawson Armstrong won the event, and Dowling Armstrong and Logan Matthews finished second and third, respectively. All will represent the Mustangs who are heavy favorites to win the Region 5-A/AA tournament Monday at Montgomery Bell state park.
• Battle Ground Academy honored three generations of the Jewell family in Franklin, naming its new sports facility in their honor. The 40,000 square foot building will be known as the Jewell Athletic & Wellness Center.
On hand for the recent ceremony were brothers John, Dickey and James Jewell and sister Betsy Jewell Adgent who accepted the honor on behalf of the rest of the family.