It was definitely one of the closest games between LaFollette and Jacksboro since the Egg Bowl began in 2012.
However, this one had more riding on it than just bragging rights for the next year. As Jacksboro defeated the Owls, 6-0, they moved on to middle school championship game.
“I’m extremely proud, especially of the second half,” head coach Mike Miller said. “I think we gave up two or three first downs during that half. It was a really good effort in the second half. They really wanted it.”
Actually, they didn’t give up a single first down during the second half. In fact, Jacksboro had the ball for 12:59 of the 16 minute half allowing them to advance.
The championship game is set for Saturday, Nov. 3 in Campbell County High School’s L. Hope Dossett Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.
“We got in the locker room and really stepped up,” Jacksboro’s defensive specialist Jared Ray said. “We knew, in this game, whether we were up by 100 or down by 100, they were going to come out fighting and try to finish this. We just came out saying that we can’t roll over, and we can’t quit.”
The Eagles didn’t quit, composing an 18-play drive for 52 yards. However, a fumble deep in the red zone allowed LaFollette the chance they wanted as Frankie Gagaris fell on the loss ball.
The Jacksboro defense stood tall, allowing only 6 yards on four plays to finish out the victory.
“All 11 really played hard,” Miller said. “I’m satisfied defensively.”
Last time, Austin Stone was able to find some room running the ball against the Eagles late in the game. However, Jacksboro was ready for the big linebacker this time.
Stone only managed 14 yards on the night, something he credits to the strength of the Eagle defenders.
“They said that they were going to come out and stop no. 50,” Stone said. “They showed me that, and I’m proud of them.”
Jacksboro scored the only points of the game at the end of the first half. Landon Reese stepped in front of Clayton Jarrett’s pass, returning it 15 yards to the LaFollette 39-yard line.
From there on, it was quarterback Shane Bowman. In the five-play drive, Bowman went three-of-four for 26 yards. His final throw met Josh Lay leaping in the end zone. The two-point conversion pass was dropped, resulting in the final score.
For Bowman, however, it was a simple decision.
“A 6-foot-1 receiver in man-to-man,” Bowman said. “It was just that easy.”
The score advances Jacksboro to the championship game against Oneida, the only team to defeat the Eagles this season.
“It’s going to be a battle next week,” Bowman said. “Everybody has to do their part, and we’ll have a good game.”
Owls season comes to a close
Starting out 3-0, the Owls bounced back in a big way. Finishing their season with a 5-5 mark is something that head coach Chris Honeycutt said is an impressive feat.
During an emotional post game huddle, Honeycutt told his team that he had no amount of words to say. He concluded with the team that played Thursday night, he would coach any day.
“You start 0-3, and you’re one touchdown away from playing in the championship,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the way they finished their season.”
For the most part, Jacksboro had trouble against the adjusted LaFollette defense. During the Egg Bowl, the Eagles hung 28 points on the board. However, they only managed six in the playoff battle.
“I was totally impressed,” Honeycutt said. “Every adjustment we made, we made it perfect. We played them much better in the passing game. I knew we would. We had one questionable call that changed the game. We had our chances. We made more mistakes than they did, and that cost. I’m really proud of the defense. That’s definitely the best we’ve played all year.”
For Jacksboro’s quarterback, Bowman, those changes were something the Eagles weren’t ready for.
“Everything that we saw in practice, they came out and ran the exact opposite,” Bowman said. “They had a lot of new defensive schemes. We had to work around it. They also had quite a few penalties, and that helped.”
LaFollette amassed seven penalties for 53 yards compared to Jacksboro’s three penalties for 10 yards.
For Honeycutt, seeing his team’s season come to an end is a somber event with only one way to describe his feelings.