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Thursday, October 24, 2013
For the second time this season, North Augusta and Paul Knox middle schools met on the gridiron, and, for the second time, the Jackets came away with a narrow victory, this time by a score of 32–26.
“I thought we played a good game,” said Justin Medlock, North Augusta's head coach. “I thought we made some big plays when we needed to. Our defense played great, the score doesn't reflect it as much as it should.”
The Jackets (5–1) were led by the play of Landon Washington, who accounted for three total touchdowns. Washington came away from the game with 167 total yards, with scoring strikes to Quadtez Webb and Alex Bridges and a rushing touchdown of his own.
“We try to keep our offense moving kind of quick, not as quick as I'd like sometimes, but we were able to put some points up,” Medlock said.
The Patriots (3–3) were able to score in some unconventional ways, on an 81–yard kick return by DeJuan Bell and a 71–yard fumble recovery by Derius Gibson, to pull within six points of the Jackets.
The scoop and score by Gibson brought Paul Knox within one possession.
“Derius Gibson, his hands are like a big ole bear paw,” said Sheldon Higgenbottom, Paul Knox's head coach. “I'm sure when he reached in there and took the ball from that kid, the kid probably thought 'What's going on?'”
After the hard fought comeback attempt by the Patriots, Higgenbottom lauded the efforts of his squad.
“I love this team,” said Higgenbottom. “We have instilled a 'Don't give up' spirit in this team. Even when we were down, the coaches and I tried to stay positive with them. I couldn't be prouder of this team”
While the Patriots dropped this game, Higgenbottom feels like his staff has laid the foundation for sustained success.
“We practice on Saturday mornings and all the kids show up, we practice on Fridays, when historically middle schools don't practice, and all the kids show up,” Higgenbottom said. “I believe we've started something here that will carry on for years to come. It's because of these kids right here.”
Medlock and the Jackets also feel the regular season has been a time of learning and improvement.
“These kids have had a great season,” he said. “They've really been listening to the coaches and have been able to produce with what we've been teaching them. It's been a good progression all season.”
The regular season may have been a time for learning, but each coach is looking forward to wrapping up the year. North Augusta is looking to keep its season rolling toward Aiken County Championship on Oct. 30, while Paul Knox is looking to finish above .500.
North Augusta will host Kennedy Middle School in a semi-final matchup, while Paul Knox will travel to Ridge Spring–Monetta in their season finale. Each game will start at 6 p.m. on Oct. 23.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for updates.