Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2004
Walking off the field for the final time this season, Rick Jackson looked over his Trojans and knew this wasn’t the way it was supposed to end.
After all, the Meadowview Christian School Trojans had accomplished so much this season – their first win in three years and their first playoff berth in eight seasons.
Their playoff game Friday night against the Clarke Prep Gators, however, seemed more like a nightmare as the Trojans were run over, 61-8. Meadowview finished at 5-6.
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“Clarke Prep is a very good football team,” Jackson said. “They beat us in every phase of the game. We didn’t block well and we didn’t tackle well.”
The Trojans’ physical condition made the Gators look even better. Many Meadowview players missed at least one practice this week due to illness. Quarterback Chris Sewell was absent from Monday through Wednesday, but played Friday night despite suffering from food poisoning. Center Ryan Stephens also played with bronchitis, and many others saw action despite suffering from a stomach virus.
“Yeah, that had something to do with it,” Jackson said. “We weren’t sharp at all offensively. There are things you can’t do when players miss practice. You lose a lot of your quickness.
“But,” Jackson added, “Clarke Prep really has a very, very good football team.”
So good, in fact, that the Gators recovered five Meadowview Christian fumbles and converted four of them into touchdowns. Clarke Prep jumped on two MCS turnovers in the first quarter en route to a 32-0 lead by the end of the first 12 minutes.
The Gators wasted little time getting on the board, as they took the opening kickoff and ran the ball down the throat of the MCS defense.
Tailback Heath Bradford and fullback Josh Lear did all the damage on the opening drive. Bradford broke free on a 26-yard run to the MCS 25. That set up Lear, who finished the job when he broke around right end and into the end zone. Lear added the two-point run to put the Gators up 8-0 just 42 seconds into the game.
The Trojans’ first drive ended as quickly as it began when Sewell was hit and dropped the ball. The Gators recovered at the MCS 24.
On the next play, Bradford ran over two would-be tacklers and into the end zone for another touchdown. Lear ran in for the two-point conversion, and Clarke Prep owned a 16-0 lead just 2:10 into the game.
Meadowview appeared to finally be on the move when Sewell connected with Austin Dennis on a 30-yard pass play to the Gators’ 45 on third-and-17. But the Trojans’ hope was dashed when the drive was halted. Matters got even worse when Sewell, trying to punt from the MCS 38, was unable to field a low snap and was bombarded by the Gators’ defensive front five.
Four plays later, quarterback J.D. Powell rolled to his left and found Brendan Becton in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard screen pass for the touchdown. Bradford scampered around right end for the two-point conversion and a 24-0 Clarke Prep lead with 3:37 left in the opening period.
The hole got deeper for the Trojans with another turnover. Five plays after the Gators recovered another MCS fumble, Lear found pay dirt on a 4-yard scoring run off left tackle. Powell hit Becton on a rollout pass for the two-point conversion to make it 32-0.
Powell also did the job on special teams, returning a punt 41 yards to the MCS 30. Two plays later, Bradford bulldozed his way in from two yards out. Bradford also ran in the two-point conversion to up Clarke Prep’s lead to 40-0 with 11:53 to go in the first half.
Meadowview’s best penetration came on the ensuing drive when the Trojans advanced to the Gator 36. But on fourth-and-three, the Clarke Prep defense halted Dennis for no gain on a run up the middle.
Clarke Prep ended the first-half scoring with a dismantling 8-play, 62-yard drive capped by bullying 2-yard run running back Wesley Morgan. Wesley Lambert added the PAT to make it 47-0.
The third period proved to be much of the same, with Lear capping a 3-play, 61-yard drive by running over two MCS defenders and into the end zone to finish an 18-yard scoring run. Lambert’s PAT made it 54-0 with 6:50 to go in the third.
Yet another MCS turnover resulted in Clarke Prep points when Powell scooped up another Trojans’ fumble and returned it 22 yards for the touchdown. The PAT made it 61-0.
Meadowview finally got on the board in the fourth quarter when Sewell found daylight around the left end and scurried 30-yards for the touchdown. Landon Mehan ran in the two-point conversion.
After the game, Jackson said he felt unfortunate for hot the seniors’ high school career ended. He added that the six helped bring the Trojans to the postseason.
“I hate to see them go,” Jackson said. “You’re only as good as your senior leadership, and we had some good (seniors) this year.
“I didn’t want to see them go out like this,” Jackson added. “I think of them as my own kids.”