Prep football: In game of spurts, JCC finishes strong over Worthington
WORTHINGTON — It was a game of momentum swings Wednesday night, in a regular season-capping football matchup in Worthington, and Jackson County Central’s final half of the game was enough for the Huskies to hold on for a win over the Trojans, 44-23.
The Huskies stormed out to a 15-0 lead to open the game before Worthington came back to score the next 10 points, giving JCC just a five-point cushion as they thought things over at the break.
JCC coach Tom Schuller said the 10-point swing actually did his club some good. Worthington lost two fumbles early in the third frame that led to touchdowns for the Huskies and a 37-17 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.
“As much as you want to get ahead, it was good for us to go into halftime with our heart rates up a bit at 15-10,” Scdhuller said. “I like how our kids came out and responded.”
JCC juniors Paden Moore and Luke Norland each scored out of the Huskies’ stout rushing attack to give their team the early lead, before Worthington came roaring back. The Trojans garnered a 27-yard field goal from junior Will Mulder and a two-yard rush from junior tailback Troy Ektnitphong to cut the gap to one possession before the break.
Jackson County Central responded with its two fumble recoveries, which both came deep in Trojans territory. JCC sophomore Keegan Moore scored twice in a three-minute span to open the game to a 29-10 spread.
Trojans quarterback Will Dudley found Mulder for a first down on the ensuing drive and, one play later, they found each other again, for a 54-yard connection to pay dirt.
The two-score span would be as close as the Trojans would get, as JCC found scores in the fourth quarter from Keegan Moore and Shadrach Wacker to open the game again before Dudley hit Blake Schroeder for a 36-yard WHS score.
JCC pounded out 272 yards on the ground to Worthington’s 63. Dudley was 10-of-13 for Worthington with 157 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while Wacker finished 11-of-17 for 168 yards for his Huskies.
Trojan senior Marcus Potter had nine carries for 43 yards for Worthington while JCC’s Paden Moore scored three of his team’s six rushing touchdowns with 15 touches for 89 yards.
Despite the loss, Trojans coach Brad Grimmius said he was proud of how his team fought, even to the final gun.
Schroeder’s touchdown catch came under the four-minute mark of the game for the hometown black-and-red, and it was indicative of a ‘never-quit’ attitude the Trojans showed last week in a 26-0 win over Pipestone Area and hope to carry into the playoffs. The team honored its 11 seniors prior to the game this week.
“We had ourselves a ballgame going into halftime. We had two turnovers right after halftime and, when you’re going against the Southwest Conference champs, you can’t do that,” Grimmius said. “The thing is that our kids didn’t quit. I told our seniors to walk off the field with their heads held high tonight.”
Jackson County Central completed a clean sweep of the league with its win, at 7-0. The team finished 3-0 against its three opponents from Section 3AA as both JCC and Worthington await their assignments for a Tuesday game to open up the playoffs. Worthington sits in Section 3AAA.
JCC senior Matt Schmit played against Worthington on an offensive line that has dominated teams all season. The 6-foot-5 235-pound Schmit said his team’s approach remains to be one game at a time.
“We started out well and had a deep pass right away. We had a little rocky stretch but finished it out,” Schmit said of his unit’s night against the Trojans. “We’re just taking it one game at a time and we’ll see how far we can go.”
JCC 15 0 22 7 — 44
Worthington 0 10 7 6 — 23