By Erik Harris
North Jefferson News
CENTER POINT — The slight breeze scattered the orange leaves onto the turf at Center Point High School Field like confetti for the Eagles, who defeated Mortimer Jordan 43-31 on Friday night.
The Region 6 game was a battle for the third seed in the quickly approaching playoffs. Friday nights' clash evens the two squads up at 4-3 in league play, with the head-to-head advantage going to Center Point. The Eagles have secured the three seed followed by Jordan filling the fourth slot; they will travel to McAdory for the first playoff round.
The Blue Devils offense came out hot early, as their first two drives ended in the end zone. Quarterback Devlin Hodges had the Jordan offense rolling over the Eagles when running back Dee Merriweather scored on a one-yard rush.
“The first two drives we were moving the ball and we had momentum,” said Blue Devil running back Landon Smith.
The Jordan offense took the field for their second drive with a similar destination in mind. Hodges found a wide-open Smith for a 59-yard touchdown reception off a play-action pass. Center Point blocked both extra points and got a touchdown of their own, making the score 12-6 Jordan in the first period.
The skill players on the perimeter ended up being the demise of the Devils. Center Point quarterback Keilan Knight used his talented wide-outs to exploit the Jordan secondary. Sherman Starks, Xavier Perkins and Terrance Bunch consistently beat the Devils' corners in one-on-one coverage.
“They sure threw the ball well to [Perkins] and [Starks] and they played a great game for Center Point,” said Jordan head coach Greg Watts.
With three minutes remaining in the first quarter, Knight responded to Jordan’s opening drive with a touchdown of his own to Starks from the 9-yard line. Jordan got a strong push up front to block the extra point.
Running back Virgil Studdard would strike next for the Eagles. He used his speed to beat the defense to the edge, allowing him to score from seven yards out on fourth and goal. Bunch beat Jordan cornerback Sean Morro on a jump ball for the two-point conversion, giving Center Point a 14-12 lead with 6:38 remaining in the first half.
Before the half was up, Morro would find himself on the losing end of another jump ball, this time for a six-yard touchdown toss to Perkins. Zakez Jones bullied his way over the goal line to add the two and send the Eagles soaring into the half with a 22-12 advantage.
Before 20 seconds could tick off the second-half clock, Studdard had found the end zone for the second time. On the first play from scrimmage, he took the handoff from Knight, put 52 yards behind him in a hurry and gave the Eagles a 30-12 advantage.
Jordan did make some adjustments in their secondary and found some of that heat the offense was putting out early, but it was too much of a deficit to overcome.
After reeling of 12 unanswered points and pulling within six, Logan Motte fumbled a punt return to give Center Point first and ten from the 19.
Motte's fortunes would not improve as he was called for pass interference on the very next play, setting up Studdard's third touchdown of the night. Just like that, the Eagles were back up by 12 with nine minutes remaining.
The Center Point offense responded well to a late Hodges touchdown run. Knight found Perkins in the end zone yet again, and this time there was no one there to out-jump.
“My hats off to Center Point,” said Watts. “They played hard and they have a good team.”
Hodges was 7-for-18 passing for 188 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also managed 28 yards rushing with another score.
Merriweather ran for 65 yards and a touchdown. Smith only managed 18 yards rushing, but added 125 as a receiver and he found the end zone twice, once on a run and the other on a catch.