Central-Clay County ousts Jasper

Mistakes prove costly for top-ranked Vikings

The Jasper Vikings’ bid for a Class 5A state title came to a halt Friday night at Ki-Ro Gambrell Field in a second-round playoff loss to the Central-Clay County Volunteers. While neither team could find consistency on offense, Central-Clay (10-2) was able to capitalize on Jasper (11-1) mistakes to earn a 20-7 win to advance to the third round. “We didn’t play very well,” Jasper Coach Bryan Moore said. “The preparation was good and the kids fought. We just didn’t play well. We have a great group of seniors, and I’m proud of what they have accomplished here.” The Vikings only managed 165 total yards (83 passing, 82 rushing) in the game, which is by far the lowest total on the 2019 season. Jasper’s 7 points were also the lowest output on the year. “(Central-Clay) is really good defensively,” Moore said. “You’ve got to hit some plays against them, and we didn’t. We had some good opportunities, but we didn’t do it. That’s a surprise for me. Our defense fought their tails off. We gave them 10 points, because our special teams wasn’t good tonight.” Harrison Saunders led the defense with 12 tackles. Taris Rudolph followed with 11 with Jaden Vance and Sheldrick Cherry adding eight each and Mason Slaughter collecting six. Kaden Shelton led the offense with 47 yards on 14 carries. Parker Sawyer finished with 83 yards on 11-of-19 passing. Sawyer threw an interception, but he also ran for 37 yards and the only score of the night for Jasper. The Vikings opened the scoring in the game with a 10-play, 71-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard run from Sawyer. Preston Reed connected on the extra point to give Jasper a 7-0 lead with 8:01 left in the first quarter.

After holding Central-Clay on its first drive, the Vikings went three-and-out on offense, and the Volunteers got to punter Grayson Diehl before he could get a kick away. Central-Clay took over at the Jasper 11, but the Vikings held to only a field goal and held on to a 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Volunteers took their first lead of the night on a 4-yard run by Quentin Knight with 4:09 left in the second quarter. Jasper had muffed a punt return to set up Central-Clay on the 4. The Volunteers led 10-7 at halftime. Central-Clay added a touchdown late in the third quarter on a 17-yard pass that came four plays after the Volunteers picked off a Jasper pass. Another Central-Clay score came on a field goal in the fourth quarter to make the final deficit 20-7. Central-Clay will now play Madison County in the third round. Moore said he was proud of his team’s accomplishments this season. “I’m just proud of them,” he said. “I didn’t know what this team had. I’m just proud of them and their accomplishments. About six months ago, we didn’t have any leaders. We didn’t have any kids that had to lead because we had such a good senior class last year. And now we have leaders. Kids who fought their guts out. I’m proud of the way they played this season. We had an unbelievable season and that is something to be proud of.”