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Prep Football: Jackets digs in, dig out big win
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
The James Monroe football team’s coaching staff wanted to deliver a message to its offensive line.
The Yellow Jackets accounted for just one first down and 12 total yards in the first half of their Battlefield District contest at rival Courtland on Friday night.
“We had to give a little speech to our linemen and ask them just to be men,” head coach Rich Serbay said.
Serbay was confident his defense could hold the Cougars in check.
But in the second half, the Yellow Jackets got just enough offense as they escaped with a hard-fought 10–7 victory to keep their perfect season intact.
James Monroe (8–0, 5–0 Battlefield) scored a touchdown and a field goal after the defense gave the offense good field position in the third quarter and senior running back Adrian Boone came through with 52 key fourth-quarter rushing yards.
The Yellow Jackets sealed the victory with quarterback Jay Scroggins’ 3-yard run for a first down after a critical 15-yard facemask penalty on the Cougars (4–4, 3–2) in the final two minutes.
“You take a great defense, you combine it with a quarterback whose smart, get some motivation for the offensive line, some fresh legs from Boone and that’s a formula for a win,” Serbay said. “So I’m real proud of my kids. They deserve all the credit.”
The smart quarterback Serbay speaks of is Scroggins. The sophomore began the season as the Yellow Jackets’ third-string signal-caller, but injuries to DeMontaz Brown and Julian Bumbrey forced him into action.
Brown is healthy again, but the Yellow Jackets chose to stick with Scroggins. Serbay said there was a plan to use Brown to throw the ball if the Yellow Jackets’ 7–0 first-half deficit grew larger. Scroggins showed why the coaches stuck with him in the third quarter with one unspectacular but heady play.
On 2nd and 13 from the Courtland 38-yard line, Scroggins was under pressure by Courtland defenders with nowhere to run. He somehow was able to throw the ball in the vicinity of a JM receiver to avoid a sack and an intentional grounding penalty.
James Monroe senior running back Darryl Dyson ran 15 yards on the next play to earn a crucial first down, and Courtland was called for a late hit to boot. Yellow Jackets’ running back Sean Bates scored on a 6-yard touchdown run three plays later to tie the game at 7.
“I didn’t want to make us lose any yards and we’d have to go farther for the first down,” Scroggins said. “So I had to be smart and throw the ball away.”
The Cougars lost a fumble on their own 7-yard line on the next possession. The defense held the Yellow Jackets to a David Dit 23-yard field goal, but the 10–7 lead stood up the rest of the game.
“We knew we could stop them,” JM senior linebacker Tony Scott said. “We just had to find a way to get the ball into the end zone. The defense made big plays to help out the offense.”
Courtland coach J.C. Hall was proud of the way his team fought, but disappointed the Cougars didn’t score more first-half points. Courtland ran 20 second-quarter plays while JM ran just seven. But kicker Seth Yurgel missed a 27-yard field goal. Washington also threw an interception to JM’s Jamal Bevels on a first-quarter march to JM’s 28-yard line.
Courtland outgained JM 106–12 in the first half, but only scored on Washington’s 1-yard run following a JM muffed punt at its own 10.
“When you dominate the first half you’d like to have more than seven,” Hall said. “We also knew we got the ball back to start the second half, but we did nothing with it. That’s when it started spiraling the wrong way.”
James Monroe hosts Spotsylvania next Friday. Courtland hosts Eastern View.
James Monroe 0 0 10 0 — 10
Courtland 0 7 0 0 — 7
Ct-E. Washington 1-yard run (S. Yurgel kick)
JM-S. Bates 6-yard run (D. Dit kick)
JM-D. Dit 23-yard field goal
First downs9 11
Rushing yardage37-109 38-122
Passing yardage32 24
Rushing: Courtland—Darien Grant 11-50; Anton Jenkins 9-33; Brandon Mason 2-15; Joe Tyson 3-12; Brandon Taylor 6-8; Eric Washington 5-8, TD; Chris Carpenter 2-(-4). James Monroe—Adrian Boone 9-52; Sean Bates 14-36, TD; Darryl Dyson 2-19; Jay Scroggins 12-2.
Passing: Courtland—Eric Washington 5-12-1 24; Zach Braswell 0-1-0 0. James Monroe—Jay Scroggins 3-11-0 32.
Receiving: Courtland—Zach Braswell 1-11; Patrick Edwards 3-8; Brandon Taylor 1-4. James Monroe—Darryl Dyson 1-18; She’Mar Ellis 1-12; Tye Johnson 1-2.
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526