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Red Devils fall to Bulldogs

Jackson starts strong, struggles in second half

Jarrett Watts (12) blocks for De'Eric Bell (23) during Friday's game at Mary Persons.

Jarrett Watts (12) blocks for De'Eric Bell (23) during Friday's game at Mary Persons.

— After a strong defensive and offensive start, the Jackson High School Red Devils led rival Mary Persons High School going into halftime of the 2011 Backyard Brawl, but faded as the game wore on Friday night, ending the season opener with a 36-20 loss in Forsyth.

Unable to put together a scoring drive in the second half, the Red Devils were also plagued by cramps and injuries.

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Quarterback Ben Cawthon looks for an open man.

The Jackson defense was able to stop the Bulldogs offense -- led by senior quarterback Taylor Williams – on the opening drive of the game, forcing a turnover on downs at the Jackson 19-yard line.

On Jackson’s first offensive play of the night, sophomore running back De’Eric Bell announced his presence with a touchdown run that put Jackson up 6-0 with 5:08 to play in the first quarter.

“He’s a big bright spot for us right now,” Jackson High School Head Coach Mike Parris said.

After a point-after attempt that went awry, the Red Devils kept the score 6-0 until giving up a touchdown to Mary Persons early in the second quarter. Jackson then put together another scoring drive with multiple carries by Bell, including one in which he fought through a wall of Bulldogs for the last few yards to the goal line. And with a pass from Jackson quarterback Ben Cawthon to receiver Dorian Davis, the Red Devils added 2 points to go up 14-7.

On the next drive, Mary Persons tied the score at 14-all with 1:17 left in the half. Jackson struck again on a long run by Bell to go ahead, but senior kicker Hannah Kline’s point-after attempt was wide right, leaving the score 20-14 in Jackson’s favor going into halftime.

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De'Eric Bell breaks away from several Mary Persons defenders.

“The bottom line is they out conditioned us and maybe that’s my fault. We should’ve conditioned a little harder,” Parris said, summing up a second half in which the Red Devils were blanked.

The Bulldogs went ahead with a touchdown and two-point conversion with under 4 minutes to play in the third, and kept up the assault in the fourth quarter, adding two more touchdowns against an injury-plagued Jackson defense.

“That’s part of the game that we’ve got to get better at … other than that we played a great first half. De’Eric Bell played good. We got a bunch of guys hurt, and we’ve just got to go back to work.”

Jackson’s first home game, at Red Devil Hill, will be this Friday, Sept. 2, against Monticello. Game time is 7:30 p.m.