The win for the Cubs, who started out the season 2-3, but have progressed to a 6-3, 6-1 record, gave them the region championship. Lincoln, Munford and Anniston will go on in the playoffs from the region as well.
The Cubs marched down the field on the opening kickoff and scored their first touchdown from one-yard out. Gabriel Marchal gave Alexandria a 7-0 lead with the extra point.
A tough defensive line for the Cubs forced Jacksonville to punt on all of their series throughout the first half.
The biggest blow to the Eagles came with 6:46 remaining in the second quarter when Mr. Everything, Dominique Thomas, who has 17 touchdowns and over 1,400 yards rushing for the season, went down with an ankle injury. Thomas had to be helped off the field and was unable to return.
Thomas ended the game with 12 yards on six carries while the Alexandria defense held the Eagles to only 57 yards rushing.
While one football player does not make the entire team, in the case of Thomas and his abilities, it goes a long way. “When one of your starters, leader and playmaker goes down the first reaction of the team is that of shock and what do we do,” commented Jacksonville head coach Clint Smith.
“Football is all about being a team. When someone goes down, someone has to step up. Dominique is a special player, no doubt about that, but it is a team game.”
The Eagles, unable to get back on track, saw Alexandria score again before the end of the half on a touchdown by Justice Owens for a 14-7 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, after pinning the Cubs deep in their own territory Jacksonville took advantage of a short punt to start up shop on the Cub 37 yard line.
Savon Parker, filling in for Thomas, on successive runs took the Eagles to the 29 yard line where it was fourth and one. Parker found a hole to the Cub 20 yard line.
Quarterback Jackson Bell kept the ball to the 12-yard line and then had his number called again and Bell went around the right end for Jacksonville’s lone touchdown of the game.
Mason Tompkins extra point was good and the Cub lead was cut to seven.
With 1:32 left in the third quarter the Cubs scored again on a 60-yard run by Owens.
Following a Jacksonville interception, the Cubs marched down the field for yet another score and the 28-7 victory.
Without question the game for the Cubs was won on the line on both sides of the ball. “They are very good up front, very physical and that’s just this region,” said Smith of the Alexandria line.
“That’s something that we have to make an emphasis on in the off season and try to get our kids bigger and stronger. That’s comes with time and that’s what we try to help them understand. The steps we’ve made this year have been good steps; we’ve made progress.”
Smith feels for the seniors who will not be able to reap the benefits of a program that will progress over time. “I told the seniors tonight it doesn’t happen overnight. Unfortunately for our seniors it’s not like they had a lot of time. I’m so proud of them and proud of the things that they’ve done up to this point.
“I challenged them to have no regrets after this Friday night. They still have a chance to be 6-4 and have a winning season and that is what we are playing for.”
Jacksonville, on Senior Night this Friday, will take on Saks (7-2, 6-1) headed for the Region 3 playoffs.
The game with Saks is of special interest for the two coaching staffs. Smith left Saks last year to come to Jacksonville, bringing half of his former staff with him. His former assistant, Jonathon Miller, is now head coach at Saks with the rest of the assistants from Smith’s former staff.
“We’re best of friends,” says Smith of Miller. “We still talk on a regular basis. We run the same offense, run the same defense, it will be a mirror image on Friday night.
“I had the pleasure of coaching all the seniors (Saks) up until now. They have a lot of great kids.
“When it’s all over we’ll shake hands. It will be an exciting game.”