The Golden Eagles set a school record for most points in a playoff game.
The Class 4A first-round playoff victory puts Jacksonville (8-3) into a matchup next week at Oneonta (10-1).
Senior running back Dominique Thomas provided the spark for Jacksonville’s win Friday, as he finished with 231 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
“Dominique had some big runs for us,” Jacksonville coach Clint Smith said “The offensive line made some holes for him and did a real good job of breaking some long runs. He was able to put some points on the board quickly.”
After falling behind 16-0 on a 5-yard pass from TJ Steele to Noah Lewis and a 3-yard run by Steele, the Golden Eagles took the field on their own 45-yard line. Thomas took the handoff and ran to the right for 50 yards to the Patriots’ 5. All off that was erased when a flag brought back the play back for holding.
Now pushed back to the their own 39-yard line, the Golden Eagles ran the exact same play and Thomas ran for a 61-yard touchdown.
“I didn’t even know the flag was thrown,” Thomas said, “and then when I found out, I was pretty mad. I was determined to score on the next play.”
That touchdown halted all of the Patriots’ momentum. They fumbled the first play of the next possession and Jacksonville took over on the 15-yard line. Junior wide receiver Sid Thurmond ran for a 14-yard touchdown two plays later.
Peyton Sims ended the Patriots’ next drive with an interception.
Senior quarterback Jackson Bell gave Jacksonville its first lead with his 18-yard touchdown run. Jacksonville led 22-16.
“You’ve got to do what’s best for the team,” Bell said. “If it’s running the ball, it’s running the ball that night. If it’s throwing it, it’s throwing it.”
Added Smith: “Jackson does a good job running our offense. He was solid tonight and made some good decisions.”
Thurmond scored the next two touchdowns, one with his legs on a 27-yard run and one with his hands on a 39-yard reception. On defense, he was still looking for the end zone when he intercepted a pass on the 5-yard line and returned it to midfield.
“Sid plays both sides of the ball for us,” Smith said. “He does a real good job at corner. We moved him to the backfield a little bit this week and he did a real good job with that.”
Added Thurmond: “I was trying to (score), but then I realized we’ve got a good running back. So I let the offense go to work and do what we do.”
Thomas added a 10-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter.
Thomas came back in the second half just as strong as he did on the Golden Eagles’ second possession. On the first play of the half, he outdid his first touchdown run with a 64-yard sprint to the end zone.
Thomas’ touchdown was the final one the Golden Eagles could manage.
The Patriots were able to salvage one more. TJ Steele completed a 20-yard pass to Tony Pate for a touchdown late in the third.
As the fourth quarter rolled around, the starters exited the field and the reserves saw action.
“Hats off to DAR,” Smith said. “They came right out here and got on us early. That’s the way it is in the playoffs. You’ve got to be ready.
“I was proud of the way our guys came back and fought through the adversity of getting down early. They were able to regain the momentum and put the game away.”