Improves to 9-0
The Jena Giants welcomed the Caldwell Spartans to town this past Friday night. The two teams have had one of the best local rivalries for the past ten years. The Giants have dominated the rivalry though, as they have won seven of the last eight matchups between the two teams. Last season, Caldwell led at halftime but the Giants came back to win 44-22.
This season, the Giants came into the game with a 16-game district win streak and were looking to stay on top of the power rankings with an undefeated record. Caldwell came into the game with a 4-4 record looking to pull off a big upset to try to secure a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
The captains for the Giants were seniors Zach Barker, Dylon Davis, Boots Green and Zerrick Jones. The Giants would win the toss and would defer to the second half.
The Giants’ defense would get a stop on the first Caldwell drive of the game, as on 4th down, the Caldwell punter made an attempt to run for the first down. Jena junior linebacker Triston McClendon made an excellent play by running to the sideline and tackling the Caldwell player a yard short of the first down. That play seemed to set the tone for the game, as the Giants’ offense would then march 44 yards in 5 plays ending with a Zerrick Jones 7-yard touchdown run to give the Giants an 8-0 lead. The Giants would use their run game and defense to wear out Caldwell in the first half. On Caldwell’s first four drives of the game, the Jena defense only gave up one first down and 32 yards.
The Giants’ second offensive drive of the game would go 68 yards in 6 plays, ending with a Zerrick Jones 6-yard touchdown run to give the Giants a 16-0 lead. Cameron Koch would score early in the second quarter on a 6-yard touchdown run to give the Giants a 22-0 lead.
Midway through the second quarter, Caldwell quarterback Jon Paul Shaw would drop back to throw but was intercepted by Jena senior defensive back Demariyon Hammock. Hammock would return the interception 60 yards for the touchdown to give the Giants a 30-0 lead. This would be the 3rd game in a row that Hammock has scored a defensive or special team touchdown. Caldwell would get a touchdown near the end of the second quarter as the Giants would take a 30-7 lead into halftime.
Zerrick Jones would put the game away early in the third quarter as he would have touchdown runs of 3 and 88 yards to give the Giants a 46-7 lead. The 88-yard touchdown run is the longest play from scrimmage for the Giants this season. The Giants would add touchdown runs by freshmen running backs Daniel Hatcher and Kairi Richardson to make the final score 60-7.
The win by the Giants would be the largest margin of victory for a team, in this rivalry that dates back to 1966. With the win, the Giants are now 9-0 on the season and are 4-0 in district. This would be the 17th district win in a row for the Giants.
Zerrick Jones would finish the game with 16 carries for 200 rushing yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. Cameron Koch would finish the game with 11 carries for 47 rushing yards and 1 rushing touchdown. The Giants as a team would rush for 374 yards on 40 carries for an average of 9.35 yards per carry.
The Giants defense would force 3 turnovers in the game as Hammock had his interception, Jacob Belcher forced a fumble and recovered it and Hunter Spence had a great interception on the Caldwell sideline. Seniors Case Addison and Jacob Pentecost led the defense with 7 tackles each in the game.
This week, the Giants will play the last game of the regular season as they travel to Deville to take on the Buckeye Panthers. The Giants are going for their 3rd undefeated regular season in school history. The Giants had undefeated regular seasons in 2015 and 2017.
The Giants are also trying to keep their long district win streak alive and keep their #1 power ranking, they can have the #1 seed in the playoffs for the first time in school history.
There is a lot to play for this Friday night so all Giant fans should make the short trip south to cheer on the team as they take on the Buckeye Panthers. Kickoff will be at 7:00 pm, and if you can’t make it to the game, then tune in on 102.7 KJNA to hear all the live action starting at 6:00 pm with the pre-game show. If you are not in the listening area then you can download the MIXLR app and search for KJNAFM or go online at www.kjnafmjena.mixlr.com.
Photos from the game: