By Erik Harris
North Jefferson News
KIMBERLY — Perhaps, nothing resonates more with sports fans than a close football game. There’s something about a closely contested gridiron battle that triggers a mild fever, followed by an increased heart rate and sweaty palms for every fanatic in attendance.
The Mortimer Jordan fans were celebrating their come-from-behind victory over John Carroll Catholic on homecoming night. Jordan pulled off the 28-25 win, after falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter.
The game started off sloppy for the home team, as cornerback Sean Morro fumbled the opening kickoff to give the Cavailers first and 10 near midfield. Jordan’s defense would hold, but the Devils' first two offensive possessions of the night featured trick plays to Tate Day that went about as well as the replacement referees on Monday Night Football.
On Jordan’s first possession, Day took a sweep and proceeded to fire a pass into the flats, which was completely vacant other than the presence of John Carroll defender Trent Marshall, who turned the mistake into a pick-six.
Despite the failure on the first drive, the Devils decided to run another trick play to Day which resulted in an 11-yard loss, halting the drive before it ever got started. After a Jordan punt, the Cavaliers marched 68 yards on seven plays to claim a 14-0 first quarter lead. The drive was capped off by Brandon Turner’s 18-yard sprint to the end zone.
“We struggled, the first half was pathetic,” said Jordan head coach Greg Watts. “It’s hard to have [homecoming activities] and still have your feet on the ground.”
From there, the Jordan offense decided to drop the cute stuff and get back to what they do best, run the football and create opportunities for quarterback Devlin Hodges.
Down by two touchdowns, the deficit was cut to seven just two plays later. Running back Dee Merriweather showed his explosive ability with an angry run to place the offense in Cavalier territory.
On the following play, Hodges improvised a 41-yard touchdown strike to his playmaking receiver Logan Motte, to pull the Devils within seven late in the first quarter.
His second trip to the end zone came in the third quarter on a 22-yard hookup with Hodges, to give the Devils their first lead of the night at 21-17.
Hodges also found Motte in the second quarter just two yards shy of the end zone, after Motte laid out for the full-extension, 31-yard highlight-reel catch.
From there the Jordan offense went back to the bag of tricks, only to find themselves facing a third-and-goal from the Cavs' 13. Merriweather saved the drive with an unexpected rush up the middle.
“Dee Merriweather is running well and our line is blocking well,” said Watts.
Jordan’s final score of the night came late in the third quarter when Landon Smith took an end-around from 16 yards out, flashed an Eddie Lacey-like spin move at the 5 and charged his way into the end zone.
That would give the Devils a 28-17 lead going into the fourth quarter, and John Carroll could never fully recover.
The Cavaliers fought back with a 1-yard touchdown rush by quarterback Wesley Dismuke on fourth and goal. Dismuke only threw the ball five times all night, completing three of them for 48 yards. He managed to cause more trouble with his legs as he finished with 76 yards on the ground.
The Cavs made a two-point conversion to make it 28-25 in favor of the home team with 3:51 remaining. However, Hodges commandeered a 10-play late drive that would leave John Carroll with only four seconds to work with, and a miracle finish was not to be for the visitors.
Hodges went 9-of-19 on the night for 132 yards and two touchdowns, both to Motte. After five games, Hodges has yet to throw an interception.
“[Motte] and I have a lot of trust in one another,” said Hodges. “We have a great relationship.”
Motte would end the night with six catches for 114 yards.
Merriweather finished the game with 17 rushes for 141 yards and one touchdown.
An impressive Jordan defense was led by a big night from two defensive linemen. Connor Hinkle and Brandon Spears combined for 26 tackles, gaudy numbers for any defensive front. Morro would add nine stops and an interception.
“We gave them 10 out of the 17 points on offense, so I felt like our defense probably out-performed our offense tonight,” said Watts.
Jordan (3-2) returns to region play next Friday, as they travel to Moody.