Indians cruise to stay atop 14-3A DI standings

Brett Berg (5) levels a hit against Randolph’s Parker Cabra (24) during the Indians’ 41-20 win over the Ro-Hawks on Friday. SAM FOWLER | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Unlike their 2019 meeting at Mickler Memorial Field, the Jourdanton Indians had no trouble rolling by the Randolph Ro-Hawks at the same venue on Friday night.

Thanks to three forced turnovers and a season-high production of 538 yards of total offense the Indians (7-1, 4-0) rolled to a 41-20 win over Randolph (3-3, 1-2).

“That was good. I was proud of the way we started,” Head Coach Darrell Andrus said, while also lamenting their 2-for-6 conversion rate on fourth down offensively. “I’m very proud of our defense. When we go for it on fourth down, that gives a short field to the other team. [Our defense] forced turnovers, they got stops. I have total confidence in our defense, that’s why we go for those fourth downs.”

After failing to convert on fourth and 10 from midfield on their opening drive, Jourdanton’s defense bailed their offense out by falling on a fumble by Randolph quarterback Sam Gierat at the Ro-Hawk 45-yard line. Five plays later, Jourdanton senior QB Cole Andrus hit fellow senior Brett Berg for a 19-yard touchdown in the first five minutes.

That would spark a historic night for the Indians, who had three receivers rack up more than 100 yards for the first time during coach Andrus’ 16-year career as a head coach. Berg (104 yds., 2 TDs), Jarel Lilly (120 yds, 1 TD) and Luke Tapp (117 yds, 1 TD) each surpassed the century mark Friday night.

After praising his three receivers, Andrus brought up Jourdanton’s efficiency in the first half, specifically during their final possession of the half. Though the end result was a missed 47-yard field goal, Jourdanton drove 58 yards in 31 seconds to give Lilly a chance to boot the long field goal.

“The fact that we ran out route, out route, out rout with such efficiency, that was a big time deal for our program to do,” Andrus said. “I was really proud of that effort, getting into field goal range. That’s something that could come up big [in the future]. That was a great experience for our team.”

Andrus added that the play of offensive tackles Freddie Martinez and Michael Howard was why the Indians had the success they did. Cole Andrus was able to enjoy a clean pocket for a majority of the game.

“Those [defensive] ends were coming hard all night after Cole,” Andrus said. “Their [Martinez and Howard] footwork and hand placement was excellent. We only had one holding penalty.”

For Berg, who makes his living as a hard-hitting linebacker for Jourdanton’s defense, he enjoyed the moment of the Indians slinging the ball around the field.

“When I get to go in on offense, it’s probably the most exciting time [for me] because when I catch that ball and look [upfield] it’s a feeling I’ll never forget,” Berg said.

Though Jourdanton had their best offensive performance of the season, the credit lies with the defense. In addition to the forced turnovers, Jourdanton held Randolph to 210 yards of total offense.

Stopping the Ro-Hawks patented Wing-T offense is no easy feat considering how detail-oriented teams have to be on defense to stop the many plays that are run out of the scheme.

“A team like that, they have three main plays: a sweep, a buck and a dive,” Berg explained. “If you can take one of those three plays out, you’ll be more successful than if they were able to run all three plays.”

Payton Gonzales came down with the Indians lone interception of the game. His interception came in the first play of the second quarter after Jourdanton failed to convert on fourth down on their final drive of the first period. It would eventually turn into Aidan Borth’s first of two touchdowns four plays later to break a 7-7 deadlock.

“That was a big momentum swing for the team,” Gonzales said. “I’m just glad I could make a play and make a large contribution for the team.”

Borth would go on to finish the game with 95 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 11 carries. His final carry, a 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, accounted for a small majority of his yards.

“Aidan had an unfortunate turnover [in the first quarter], but he made up for it as the night went along by running hard and physical,” Andrus said. “That’s always a nice way to cap it off. He wore them down, getting three-, four-, five-yard runs. I could tell he was getting a little bottled up and frustrated. When he made that great vision run there at the end, that’s what Aidan does.”

District 14-3A DI is now entering the portion of their schedule where games are scheduled for every five days with two make-up days built in for the possibility of any COVID-related shutdowns. Thursday is the next scheduled slate of games for the district, but Jourdanton will enjoy the first of two scheduled open dates.

Jourdanton is scheduled to face Lytle on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m. in Lytle.

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