Even though they were fresh off of a two-week quarantine due to positive COVID-19 tests and had minimal time to prepare with two practice days, the North Pike Jaguars showed little to no rust Friday night picking up a 42-16 win over visiting Lawrence County.
The game was not only homecoming for the Jaguars but also their first game played at Southwest Mississippi Community College this year as well as the first home win for new head coach Matt Mock.
“I am extremely pleased with our team tonight, they went after it and got after it and we got up on Lawrence County and played well in all three phases of the game,” Mock said.
North Pike gained 325 yards of total offense with 187 of those coming through the air. Junior Jermarius Lewis led the rushing attack with 60 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 60 passing yards. Cardell McDowell compiled 141 yards and two scores on 6-of-10 passing. Zamarea Fountain was the leading receiver hauling in three balls for 82 yards and a touchdown.
It didn’t take long for the Jaguars (3-1, 1-1) to make a statement. Following a three-and-out where North Pike flexed its muscle defensively, the Jaguars offense went to work with a trick play on their first play from scrimmage. A flea-flicker resulted in a 31-yard pass from McDowell to Jacoby Matthews. Two plays later Lewis put the Jaguars on the board first following a 1-yard touchdown run. Jace Brown added the PAT putting North Pike up 7-0 less than four minutes into the contest.
Another three-and-out gave the ball back to the Jaguars with great field position at the 38-yard line of the Cougars (2-4, 1-2). The drive consisted mostly of big plays from McDowell and Lewis who combined for 47 passing yards, moving the ball down into the red zone. Lewis then capped-off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown run. With the two-point conversion, the lead grew to 15-0.
“It was really important for us to get out ahead early because we were running on only two days of practice,” Lewis said. “So we couldn’t make any mistakes.”
Coach Mock then caught Lawrence County off-guard implementing an onside kick in which his team worked to perfection.
A 31-yard run by Damuriyon Montgomery set the Jaguars up with a golden opportunity to add to their lead. And that they did as McDowell found Fred Lewis — a linebacker lining up on offense — for a two-yard touchdown pass giving North Pike a 22-0 advantage.
“I told coach to give me a chance and I said that I got you,” Fred Lewis said. “If you give me the ball, I will catch it. We were down in the red zone and I had to go get it and I caught it.”
Lewis also gave high praise to his defense who held the Cougars to under 150 total yards on the evening.
About halfway through the second quarter, the Jaguars began a drive at the North Pike 28-yard line marking the first possession in which they began in their own territory. It didn’t matter to Jermarius Lewis or the Jaguars as they marched down the field behind their junior receiver/quarterback who finished off a six-play 72-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge, his third of the evening making it a 29-0 lead for North Pike.
On the Cougars’ first offensive play of the second half, they lit up their side of the scoreboard after Sherrod Ben hauled in a pass from Elijah Helton and sprinted into the end zone from 42-yards out.
But North Pike answered right back as McDowell showed that the Jaguars are capable of long passing touchdowns as well, hitting senior Zamarea Fountain on a deep ball down the near sideline for a 64-yard touchdown.
“I felt good and we did well tonight to get the job done,” said McDowell, a sophomore.
Late in the third quarter, Matthews got into the act once again with a nine-yard touchdown run on a reverse giving the hosts a 42-8 advantage.
Lawrence County managed one more touchdown on a two-yard run by Quincy Lewis, however, North Pike ran out the final 4:00 of the clock to walk away with the win.
After the game, Matthews said that his team’s performance Friday night was a way of silencing the doubters.
“We had to put our foot in the ground because other teams think that just because we lost two weeks, they thought that we didn’t have a chance,” he stated.
Mock said that the win also helped solidify a postseason berth, adding that Friday's win is only the beginning for his ball club.
“Getting the district win was huge, it gets us in the playoffs,” he said. “We are guaranteed a playoff spot and if we take care of business next week and then we take care of business the next week there is a tie for first place no matter how you look at it.”