Ryan Payne did everything but sell tickets at the front gate Friday night.
The speedy senior for the Blue Devils became the cure for Jellico’s losing pains, going for five touchdowns and 302 all-purpose yards against the Oakdale Eagles.
The performance snapped the Blue Devil’s 19-game school record losing streak with a 42-6 victory in Oakdale.
“It’s been a long time coming,” head coach Brad Lawson said after his ice bath.
“I’m lost for words,” he continued. “This is the first one. I’m relieved.”
For Payne, it was a big night. On 28 carries, the senior rushed for 192 yards, five touchdowns and two two-point conversions.
“He’s a kid that we’ve been proud of every week,” Lawson said. “He shows up and plays hard. Tonight, it came together for us. We were able to get some blocks and execute a little bit. He’s faster than the other side, and tonight he had a big night.”
Payne also threw 5-of-10 for 80 yards and a two-point conversion. Add in 30 yards worth of kickoff returns and four tackles, and he proved the difference for the Blue Devils.
However, to Payne, it couldn’t have been done without his offensive line.
“It happened because I got some good blocks,” he said. “The holes were there. It just happened quick for us.
“I can’t thank (the offensive line) enough. Without them, I’d be taken down in the backfield every play. Thanks to them, we got a big victory tonight.”
Struggling at the beginning of the season, the offensive line showed its power against the Eagles. Behind them, the Blue Devils managed 280 yards of rushing on 47 carries. Jellico managed six rushing touchdowns, while averaging 6 yards per carry.
On the night, the Blue Devils found 360 yards of offense behind their growing line.
“We’ve worked hard all season,” offensive linemen Michael King said. “We finally got something going for us tonight.”
Lawson can see the same improvement.
“They did much better,” he said. “They’ve improved, and they’ve developed as the season came along. I’ve been very proud of them in how they developed. They’ve went from missing blocks and not knowing assignments, to getting to blocks and knowing their assignments.”
However, there was a grey cloud hanging over the night. Senior Austin Bowlin was injured during last Monday’s practice, leaving him sideline for the Blue Devil victory.
To Lawson, that was the hardest part.
“It’s definitely tough,” he said. “It would have been great to have him here tonight, being a senior and only having two games left. It is tough. I feel more bad about that, than us have to scheme some things without him.”
Jellico got things started on its first drive of the game. Payne went 37 yards on the 40-yard drive, finishing from 21 yards out. He followed Austin Partin and Jeff Carr up the middle for the score. One the two-point try, Payne went behind Josh Lay to make the score 8-0 with 7:39 left in the first.
Their next drive saw much the same, as Payne and Lay combined for 43 yards on 9 plays to up the score. Payne followed Partin and King in from 1-yard out for the score. Payne’s two-point throw was broken up by Andrew Hill for the 14-0 Jellico lead with 1:23 left in the first quarter.
Oakdale found the end zone on the ensuing drive. The 14-play, 82-yard drive was capped off with Logan Cox going 11 yards for the score. Hill’s extra-point kick was blocked by Jacob Murray to leave the score at 16-6 with 8:01 in the half.
It would be the Eagles only score as the Blue Devil defense held them to only 153 yards on the night.
Daniel Steakley picked off Aaron Powers’ pass at the Eagle 34-yard line. Steakley returned the ball to the 7-yard line before being taken down by Cox. On the next play, Payne went the distance. His ran for the two points behind Steakley to make the score 22-6 with 1:50 left in the half.
Carr forced an Eagle fumble, which was quickly scooped up by Jacob Murray. Two plays later, Payne went up the middle behind Partin and David Harmon for the score. Devan Harmon caught Payne’s two-point pass, as the Blue Devils led 30-6 at the half.
On Jellico’s first drive of the second half, they went 54 yards on 10 plays. Payne went the last 5 yards behind Steakley, before Lay’s two-point attempt was stopped by Brent Gouge. With 5:58 left in the third, the Blue Devils led 36-6.
Five plays and 48-yards gave Jellico the 42-6 lead with 5:00 left in the fourth. Lay went the last 5 yards.
To Payne, it shows what his team can do when they all work together.
“We finally started clicking,” he said. “We’ve clicked throughout the season for a quarter or two. We’ve never really done if for a full game. Tonight, it shows what happens when we’re clicking for a full game.”
To the team, getting the win is something that just feels good.
“It feels pretty great,” Daniel Steakley said. “It feels awesome.”