The Kendrick Cherokees came into Thursday night's Region 5-AA contest against the Jordan Red Jackets at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium needing a win to keep their state playoff hopes alive.
Kendrick (5-4, 4-3) did just that, thumping Jordan, 46-22.
Things didn't come easily for the Cherokees, though, at least early on in the game.
Jordan (2-7, 2-5) grabbed a 7-0 lead just 15 seconds into the contest, as Kyren Harper returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown and Javante West booted home the extra point to give the Red Jackets an early shot of momentum.
Kendrick's offense struggled early, losing a fumble and turning the ball over on downs on its first two possessions, but a bad snap on a Jordan punt led to the Cherokees' first score of the night.
Setting up shop on the Red Jackets' 34-yard line, Brandon Wade ripped off a 33-yard run to the Jordan 1 and two plays later scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. However, Kendrick's two-point conversion try failed and the Red Jackets still led 7-6 with 5:41 remaining in the opening quarter.
Following a stop of Jordan's offense -- the Red Jackets had minus-29 yards of offense on their first three possessions -- Kendrick took over on the Jordan 40 and put together a seven-play drive to score on a 5-yard touchdown run by Triston Dowdell. The conversion try failed again, but the Cherokees held a 12-7 lead after the first 12 minutes.
Kendrick upped its lead to 20-7 after Emmanuel Brown blocked a Jordan punt and the Cherokees recovered it on the Red Jackets' 9-yard line. Two plays later, Dowdell scored his second TD of the night on a 5-yard run and he ran in the conversion as well to give Kendrick a two-touchdown lead. Reno Lee got in on the act next, returning a Red Jackets punt 55 yards for a touchdown and after a Jonathan Hines conversion run, the Cherokees led 28-7 with nine minutes still to go before halftime.
With no offense to speak of through the first 15 minutes of the game, Jordan took advantage of good field position and a 36-yard pass from William Harris to West to score on a 9-yard touchdown run by Tim Griggs. West made the extra point and the Red Jackets were back to within 28-14 with 7:50 remaining in the second quarter.
The Cherokees promptly replied with a nine-play, 77-yard drive that Wade finished off with a 54-yard touchdown scamper to give Kendrick a 34-14 advantage, which they took into the locker room at halftime. Wade had 15 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone as the Cherokees rolled up 211 rushing yards in the opening two quarters.
Meanwhile, Jordan had just minus-2 yards of total offense and one first down, which came on the long pass from Harris to West.
On the Red Jackets' opening drive of the second half, Hines stepped in front of a pass and returned the interception 50 yards for a touchdown. The Cherokees' conversion attempt failed, but they held a 40-14 lead with just over eight minutes to go in the third quarter. Hines got into the scoring column again on Kendrick's next drive, as he found Antonio Jones for a 12-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was no good and the Cherokees led 46-14 with 4:40 left in the period.
The fourth quarter was played with a running clock, but Jordan did get a touchdown back when Harris and West hooked up again for a 40-yard score. Griggs ran in the conversion to make it 46-22 Kendrick midway through the final period.
For the game, Wade finished with 18 carries for 144 yards and two scores as the Cherokees cruised in the second half, allowing Hines to work on his passing game. He finished up 3-for-8 for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Due to multiple bad snaps, fumbles and sacks, Jordan finished with minus-91 yards on 24 carries. The Red Jackets had 26 total yards and seven first downs due mostly to the passing of Harris, who went 8-for-20 for 117 yards with one touchdown and one interception. West hauled in fives passes for 110 yards and a score in the loss.
Thursday at Memorial Stadium
Kendrick 12 22 12 0--46
Jordan 7 7 0 8--22
J--Kyren Harper 84 kickoff return (Javante West kick), 11:45.
K--Brandon Wade 1 run (Run failed), 5:41.
K--Triston Dowdell 5 run (Run failed), 0:24.
K--Dowdell 7 run (Dowdell run), 10:13.
K--Reno Lee 55 punt return (Jonathan Hines run), 9:00.
J--Tim Griggs 9 run (West kick), 7:50.
K--Wade 54 run (Run failed), 3:00.
K--Hines 50 interception return (Run failed), 8:33.
K--Antonio Jones 12 pass from Hines (Kick failed), 4:40
J--West 40 pass from William Harris (Griggs run), 7:33.
Records: Kendrick 5-4, 4-3 Region 5-AA; Jordan 2-7, 2-5. Next: Kendrick vs. Spencer (at Kinnett Stadium, Nov. 8, 4 p.m.), Jordan at Manchester on Thursday.