The Golden Eagles amassed 360 yards, 282 of which were gained on the ground, and scored 28 points against the Cavs.
However, Jacksonville allowed twice as many points, losing 56-28, and just as many yards, giving up 367. Five of the Cavs’ eight touchdowns were on plays of 39 yards or more.
“It was our first regular season game of the year,” Houston said. “The big thing we need to do is put the John Carroll game behind us. Offensively, we were good. We were able to move the ball down the field. Defensively, we didn’t play well at all.
“If we don’t play better on defense,” Houston added, “that’s not going to be good enough to beat anyone.”
Jacksonville will host Class 4A, Region 6 foe Locust Fork tonight at 7 p.m. at Golden Eagles Stadium. The Golden Eagles have defeated the Hornets each of the past two seasons. Jacksonville won 36-12 on the road last year on its way to a 7-4 mark and first postseason appearance in a decade.
That followed a 27-26 win at home the year before.
“Locust Fork is a very physical football team,” Houston said.
“Speed is not what they’re known for but they line up and get after it.”
The Hornets fell 24-10 at home to Crossville in Week 1.
The Eagles have seen top-talent in both of their outings thus far in 2010. They played defending Class 3A state champions Piedmont in their jamboree, losing 33-13 to the Bulldogs.
“The question going into the Piedmont game was, ‘How would we be along the lines?’” Houston said.
“We lost our whole defensive line and several members off our offensive line. We found out that we’ve still got a good offensive line.”
Standout junior Cordero Little led the way for Jacksonville with 96 yards on 19 carries against John Carroll. Quarterback Forrest Pearson completed 2 of 5 passing attempts for 78 yards and a touchdown out of the Golden Eagles’ option offense.
Houston, The Star’s 2009 Class 4A-6A Calhoun County Coach of Year, said his team has improved it’s cohesiveness on offense after looking sloppy at times during its jamboree.
“In practice, we’ve looked good,” Houston said. “But it’s a whole different situation when you factor in the speed of the game and having penetration up front. When you’re in a real game, you’ve got to adjust to that. That was the problem against John Carroll. The option looks good when you’re pitching it exactly where it needs to go. When you’re pitching it on the ground, that’s another obstacle you’ve got to overcome.”
Defensively, he said the Eagles need to get better at their inside linebacker slots and fine tune the technique of their defensive linemen.
Houston used the words of a Jacksonville supporter to describe the message he’s delivered to his team all week.
“The season is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “There’s still a lot of football ahead of us. Of course, everyone wants to start out good and get the momentum going. But we’ve played well in practice. What we need now is a win to get rolling. We’ve got as good of athletes as we’ve ever had.”
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 235-3575.