The JCHS Football Team had another tough night Friday.
The Longhorns made too many mistakes and turned the ball over six times in a 28-14 defeat to Grace Christian at McEwen Stadium.
Despite falling to 2-7, the Longhorns actually can grab second place in the conference and an automatic bid to the playoffs if they defeat Happy Valley and Unicoi County defeats Sullivan North.
The Longhorns are going to have to play a lot better on Friday as JCHS had a tough time keeping their hands on the football.
All four Grace Christian touchdowns came off Longhorn turnovers. The Longhorns threw three interceptions and lost three fumbles.
Overall, JCHS fumbled five times.
Weve been turning it over all year and weve tried to do some things in practice to fix it and its not getting fixed, JCHS head coach Mike Atwood said. Every game weve lost weve turned the ball over way to much with the exception of possibly Cherokee. I think they punted four or five times and we only turned it over once. Were just turning the ball over way too much.
The Longhorns hit paydirt at the end of the half when Jason Steele found Eric Arnold for a scoring strike that cut the Grace Christian lead to 14-7.
The Longhorns had new life and Atwood felt good about things at the break.
We gave both of their touchdowns on turnovers and then we scored at the end of the half and stopped them three and out on their first drive of the second half and we had the ball inside the 20 and didnt score and we felt like we had a chance to win the ball game, we just didnt get it done when we need to.
Two interceptions aside, Jason Steele played one of his best games of the year with an 8-of-15 effort for 54 yards.
The Longhorn running game struggled as for the second week in a row JCHS was held to just barely over 100 yards with an 101 yard effort.
Atwood was pleased with the passing game for the most part.
We threw the ball fairly well and other than the one bad pass in the second half I thought we threw the ball fairly well., he said.
Senior Danny Herman, who continues to be very solid for the Longhorns, turned in the standout performance of the game.
Herman may have only had three tackles on defense, but he made them count, as two of them were sacks.
On the offensive line, Herman was very strong and had a very good night.
Atwood is very proud of his senior lineman.
Danny has played good all year and he played a great game, Atwood said. He really did a good job and the offensive line blocked well. They have a guy going to Duke or Georgia Tech and another one is getting some looks. That was a good football team. I was pleased with the offensive line.
Overall, the mistakes were just too many to overcome.
The way our offense is set up we cant overcome turnovers.
The biggest highlight of the night was Mark Jennings returning another touchdown as he scampered in the fourth quarter from 75 yards to bring the game to its final score of 28-14.
Jennings has become one of the most explosive players in the region and can hurt teams in so many ways.
I think hes had two touchdowns called back on kick returns and were real happy with our return game, Atwood said.
The Longhorns have a tall order Friday as the Longhorns take on a strong Happy Valley team that just dominated previously unbeaten Hampton.
They seem to be playing better than anybody in the conference right now and if you can get that triple option offense running well its hard to stop and theyre running it well, Atwood said. Were going to have a hard time stopping it so were going to have our work cut out for us this week.
The Warriors have a new coach this year in Larry Shively and his first body of work has impressed Atwood.
He had done an outstanding job and his boys play hard and thats what you have to do in football is play hard, Atwood said.
The Warriors are led by sophomore running back Jaylon Simmons, who has become a very dangerous runner.
Hes a hard-runner, but I think we can scheme to stop him, Atwood said. Were going to try and make somebody else beat us.
Its senior night on Friday and the Longhorns still have a lot to play for.
People remember your last game more than any other game and you remember your last game more than any other game. They can still make this a meaningful season, Atwood said.
After having a sparse crowd this past Friday, the Longhorns are hoping for more support this week.
Most of these kids are four year players and have put in four hard years, Atwood said.
EDITORS NOTE: The game will be played on Friday. Rumors were going around that the game would be on Thursday due to statewide teacher in-service, but Johnson County does not participate anymore and will be in school.
STATS FOR JCHS
RUSHING: Austin Humphrey 14-29, Mark Jennings 15-66, Jason Steele 2-5, Kyle Miller 1-1
PASSiNG: Jason Steele 8-15-2, 54 yards, Austin Humphrey 1-0-1
RECEIVING: Eric Arnold 4-33, Austin Humphrey 2-18, Chris Stollings 1-9, Mark Jennings 1 (-6)
TACKLES: Danny Herman 3, Zack Jacobs 5, Skylar Reece 7, Kyle Miller 2, Mark Jennings 8, Austin Humphrey 4, Joe Baxter 6, Eric Arnold 6, David Gibson 2, Chris Stollings 2.
SACKS: Skylar Reece 2, Danny Herman 2, Eric Arnold 1
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Danny Herman 1, Austin Humphrey 1