JACKSON, Ohio — The end of an era.
The Gallia Academy football team ended a major chapter in its history Friday night, as the Blue Devils fell to archrival Jackson 64-20 in the Apple City. The game marked the final Southeastern Ohio Athletic League gridiron showdown between the foes, as Gallia Academy heads to the Ohio Valley Conference next year.
After forcing a Blue Devil punt on the game’s opening possession, Jackson (9-1, 3-0 SEOAL) marched down the field and scored the game’s first touchdown on a five-yard Johnny Farley run.
Gallia Academy (1-9, 1-2) fumbled the ball away on its next possession and the Ironmen setup shop at the GAHS 16. On Jackson’s first play of the drive quarterback Hunter Sexton scrambled for a touchdown that gave the Red and White a 14-0 lead.
The Blue Devils punted again on their next possession, and the Ironmen returned it to the GAHS seven-yard line. Jackson, which had a touchdown called back because of a hold, settled for a 27-yard field goal by Sheldon Moore at the 3:39 mark of the first quarter.
The Ironmen scored one more time in the opening stanza, as Sexton broke a 57-yard run with 40 seconds left in the first. JHS picked up right where it left off in the second period, as Collin Massie scored on a 34-yard run with 10:09 to play in the first half.
After an interception gave JHS the ball back in Blue Devil territory, Sexton connected with Kyle Kirby for a 30-yard touchdown pass, which gave the Ironmen a 38-0 lead.
Gallia Academy found the endzone for the first time with 8:31 left in the second quarter, when senior Kole Carter completed a 38-yard touchdown pass to fellow senior Devin Henry. The two-point conversion failed and the Blue and White trailed 38-6.
JHS sophomore Blake McCoy posted the next two scores, first on a one-yard run, and again on a 14-yard pass from Bryce Hall. Jackson scored once more in the second quarter, as Austin Edwards recovered a fumble in the endzone with 52 seconds remaining in the half. Moore was 7-of-8 on point after kicks in the first half, and the Ironmen led 58-6 at halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, Carter gave the GAHS fans something to cheer about with a 25-yard touchdown run to open the fourth. However, JHS expanded the lead back to 52 with a six-yard Matt Humphreys at the 8:29 mark of the fourth.
Gallia Academy posted the game’s final score at the 2:13 mark of the fourth on a one-yard Carter run. Freshman Justin McClelland ran in the two-point conversion and the Blue Devils fell by a 64-20 final.
The Ironmen held a 21-to-10 advantage in first downs and a 426-to-237 edge in total offense, including a 322-to-181 advantage on the ground. The Blue Devils fumbled six times and lost possession twice, while JHS lost both of its fumbles. GAHS was penalized four times for a total of 45 yards, while JHS was sent back six times for 60 yards. Gallia Academy punted five times and threw one interception, while Jackson never punted or threw an interception.
Carter, who completed 1-of-2 pass attempts for a 38-yard touchdown, led GAHS on the ground with 103 yards and two scores on 25 carries, while catching one pass for three yards. Henry caught one pass for 38 yards and a score, while rushing six times for 66 yards. McClelland, who was 2-of-4 passing for 18 yards, ran for 11 yards on three attempts, while Eric Ward had one five-yard run and Matt Bailey had one 15-yard reception.
Sexton, who completed 4-of-8 pass attempts for 90 yards and a touchdown, led the Ironmen rushing attack with 93 yards and two touchdowns on three carries. Austin Leach led JHS receivers with 49 yards on two receptions, while Humphreys had 51 yards and a score on six rushes.
The Ironmen and Blue Devils will not face each other in football next season, but the rivals will face off again in Week 3 of the 2017 season, in Gallia County. GAHS holds a 42-40-5 record in all-time meetings with JHS.
Jackson earned its 15th outright SEOAL championship with the win. JHS has also shared nine league titles. Gallia Academy leaves the SEOAL with a 325-222-20 all-time league record, to go with 17 league titles, the last of which came in 2012.
This marks the final game in the Blue and White for GAHS seniors Kole Carter, Devin Henry, Eric Ward, Micah Saunders, Russell Matthew, Isaiah Holley, Matt Bailey, Brian Hurt, Ben Saylor, Drew Vansickle, Brett Johnson, Anthony Sipple, Justin Reynolds, Ethan Robinson and Brett Hively.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.