The score could have come from a mismatched basketball game, but North Pike’s 63-22 win over Franklin County gave the Jaguars their first win of the football season Friday night.
Senior quarterback phenom Alijah Martin had three touchdowns, one passing and two rushing, and junior running back Damuriyon Montgomery put four on the board, including three in quick succession in the third quarter in the Jaguars’ rout of the Bulldogs.
North Pike improved to 1-2, while Franklin County remained at 0-3.
The Jaguars' no-huddle offense hastened the play of the game, which actually seemed to drag on, with the first half lasting an hour and a half due to all of the scoring that frequently stopped the clock.
Head coach Chris Smith planned on orchestrating a fast-paced game in order to wear out the Bulldogs’ roster, which is heavy with players on both sides of the ball.
“We felt like they had some guys that were going both ways. We had been working on the no-huddle and we felt like we had a good enough practice to bring it out,” Smith said.
The game also gave North Pike a chance to bring out some of its younger players, like freshman QB Cardell McDowell and running back Jayden Taylor, who scored the Jaguars’ final touchdown.
“We’ve been doing this for two year now, me and Montgomery, and this is JT’s first year, so we’re trying to get in a lot of reps too so he can fall in line,” Martin said.
North Pike began its offensive onslaught with a blocked punt from Cade Rush that got the Jaguars down to the Bulldogs’ 14. Martin connected with Zamarea Fountain on a 9-yard pass with 9:18 left in the quarter and then ran in the two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead.
“It started with defense. When the defense hit them in the mouth, we came right out the bat,” Martin said.
Franklin County struggled to get in the groove, with quarterback Trent Tindle throwing a series of incompletions before being intercepted by Thomas May.
After a five-play drive, Martin ran the ball down the left sideline to score from 55 yards out with 6:08 left in the first quarter. Jace Brown kicked a successful PAT to make it 15-0.
Franklin County got on the board at the 4:24 mark, when Makyilan Covington went for the fake punt and passed to Ryan Turner, who evaded several North Pike defenders on his way into the end zone. A North Pike penalty on Franklin County's first two-point conversion attempt gave the Bulldogs a second try, and it was good, making it 15-8.
North Pike responded immediately, with Jacoby Matthews running in a 35-yard touchdown. Jace Brown's extra point kick gave the Jaguars a 22-8 lead with four minutes left in the first quarter.
Franklin County found itself back in the end zone after Malik Wells ran in from 3 yards out with 7:52 to go in the second quarter. Tindle connected with Jamal Coleman — the Bulldogs’ other big-time rusher in addition to Wells — for the successful two-point conversion to make it 22-16.
The Jaguars responded with runs from Lewis, Martin and Montgomery that resulted in a string of first downs before Martin reached the end zone on a 9-yard run. Another successful kick from Brown extended the Jags’ lead to 28-16 with 5:19 left before halftime.
North Pike got the ball back on an interception at the Bulldogs’ 48, and it became the Martin & Montgomery Show from there, with the pair carrying the Jaguars to the 8 yard line. Montgomery ran it in to give the Jags a 36-16 lead after a successful extra-point kick from Brown with 3:52 left in the half.
Ja'marlin Green scored Franklin County’s next and final touchdown on a 3-yard run with 31 seconds left before halftime. The two-point conversion failed as Green was stopped at the 3 yard line to make it 36-22.
North Pike came out of the locker room and launched an eight-play drive that included a fourth-down conversion that was immediately followed by an 11-yard touchdown run from Montgomery, bringing the Jaguars’ lead to 43-22 after the PAT with 8:18 to go.
A fumble recovery on the second play of the Bulldogs’ next possession set North Pike up for another quick score, with Montgomery running the ball in from 18 yards out. The extra point kick made it 50-22 with 7:56 left in the third quarter.
Montgomery posted another rushing touchdown from 22 yards out before he and Martin left the game.
Taylor, the freshman running back, managed to impress, for sure, posting the Jaguars’ finals TD of the night on a 5-yard run with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
The final frame featured a running clock and a more evenly matched contest between the Franklin County and North Pike’s underclassmen.
Penalties hurt the Jaguars throughout the game. North Pike accumulated 15 for a loss of 89 yards on the night, including one that negated a big touchdown run from Jermarius Lewis late in the first quarter as well as another big gain on a long pass from Martin to Matthews not long after that.
“We had some sloppy penalties. Some of that was because we added a little wrinkle to the offense,” Smith said.
And while rumblings about the Jags’ inability to play four full quarters have been circulating following their first two games, three was all they needed tonight.
“We were a little sloppy on defense, missed some tackles and things like that, but they came back in the second half and did pretty good,” Smith said. “I challenged them at halftime — ‘Go ahead and finish it.’ ”
North Pike travels to Columbia next week. Franklin County goes to Wesson.