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LOUISVILLE – If you were to ask members of the Anderson County football team, chances are that some might say that Demichael Jackson could score a touchdown before you could say his whole name.
He's not quite that speedy, but Jackson left Bearcat defenders tackling air, slapping the ground and generally watching him from behind as he led Jeffersontown to a 42-20 win over the visiting Bearcats in Class 5A, District 4 action Friday night.
“We blinked and were down 14-0,” said Anderson coach Mark Peach. Jackson scored on the game's second play, then on J-town's next possession, the Chargers moved 71 yards in six plays with Daniel Ross scoring from a yard out. The big play, however, was Tyray Daniels dancing 34 yards on a third down, breaking at least four tackles as he zigged across the field while Anderson zagged.
Jackson piled up 197 all-purpose yards (135 rushing, 62 receiving) and scored five touchdowns as J-town improved its record to 4-2 and 1-1 in district play. Anderson fell to 3-3 and 1-1.
“They were obviously the better football team tonight,” said Anderson coach Mark Peach. “They have so many weapons. You stop (Jackson), then you have (Daniels). Stop him and you have (Harry Cross).
“They had a total team effort. My hat is off to them.”
Jeffersontown, which had been smarting from a two-overtime loss to South Oldham the week before, dominated the Bearcats with an attack that was not fancy. Just get the ball to the playmakers and let them do their thing.
They did their thing time and again, averaging better than nine yards on 53 offensive plays. J-town amassed 482 yards to Anderson's 273.
Jackson, however, was the biggest culprit. He practically sandwiched the entire first half with a pair of scores that might have defined Anderson's first district loss to a team other than Oldham County for the first time since the Bearcats moved to Class 5A in 2007. On the second play from scrimmage, Jackson motored untouched for 52 yards to put J-town up 7-0, then after the teams traded scores, Jackson took Jody Pierce's pass over the middle, then lunged into the end zone with 0.6 seconds remaining before halftime.
That touchdown made it 21-7 on the scoreboard, but did immeasurable damage to the Bearcats' frame of mind. “You have to get off the field,” Anderson coach Mark Peach said. “When you are in that situation, you have to find a way to get off the field before halftime. Instead, we were sitting back and waiting for someone to make a play.”
The Bearcats allowed J-town to get out of trouble twice on what was a 78-yard drive that started when it looked as if J-town had simply averted disaster when a punt bounded off an up back's leg, but the Chargers beat two Anderson players to the ball at the J-town 22.
Eleven plays later, Pierce and Jackson hooked up for the crucial score.
Ironically, after giving up two touchdowns in the first 3:35, Anderson settled in and appeared to be solving the J-town attack before the final drive of the half. The Bearcats had stopped J-town on downs and forced a punt in the previous two series.
Anderson had also suffered a major blow early in the second quarter when junior running back Ethan Kelly limped off the field with an apparent achilles injury. Kelly did not return to actlon
The knockout punch, however, came early in the second half.
Aided by an illegal substitution and a personal foul against J-town, Anderson moved to the Charger 38 where J-town's Isaac Winstead sacked quarterback Seth Carmichael at midfield. It was one of three times J-town sacked Carmichael for losses totaling 29 yards.
“It's everybody,” Peach said when asked where the fault lay. “The offensive line has to give some protection. Our backs have to pick (blitzing linebackers) up. Seth has to get rid of the ball.”
The Bearcats stalled, but after Anderson forced a J-town punt, the ball took a wicked hop, hitting returner Blake Curtsinger, who was unable to make a play.
J-town did, recovering at the Anderson 26.
“You have to get out of the way,” Peach said. “Either catch it or get out of the way. He got caught in between.”
Just over two minutes later, Jackson hit paydirt again, this time from a yard out, to make it 28-7.
Game, set, match.
The teams merely traded scoring drives the rest of the way.
“I thought our kids tried hard. We might have tried to do too much and that is my fault,” Peach said. “After Ethan Kelly went down, Logan Woodside (79 yards) ran the ball hard. Blake Curtsinger and Matt Sprague gave a great effort on defense.”
But now, Anderson is in the situation of having no margin for error. However, the Bearcats could still win the district if they win the two remaining district games. The loss hurt but was not devastating.
“I talked with the kids about that,” Peach said of his post-game remark to the team. “It is a great lesson in life. It is a great challenge.”
E-mail John Herndon at email@example.com.