Defense wins championships, as they say, and the Jourdanton Indians used their defense to take the first step to back-to-back district titles Friday night.
Highlighted by sacks and interceptions, Jourdanton (4-1, 1-0) beat the Marion Bulldogs (2-3, 0-1) 42-13 on the road in the first game in District 14-3A Division I thanks to their standout defensive play.
“That was a big win. Defense played lights out,” Head Coach Darrell Andrus said.
The Indians held Marion, a predominately run-oriented offense, to just 43 yards rushing and 212 yards of total offense.
With Jourdanton struggling to gain offensive momentum in the first half, and even into the third quarter, they needed to lean on their defense in order to get the win. Jourdanton led narrowly, 14-7, at halftime despite scoring on their first two of six first-half possessions and managed one touchdown in the third quarter.
“I felt like our defense played great,” said senior Brett Berg. “We had a few misplays and I feel like that’s why they put their points on the board, but everything’s coming together. In a few games, we’re gonna be lights out.”
Berg put the icing on the cake for the Indians in the fourth quarter, intercepting Marion’s Tanner Beakley and returning it 56 yards to the endzone to put Jourdanton up 42-13 with 3:11 left in the game.
Berg said he was so focused on making sure the low pass didn’t hit the ground that he didn’t realize he had a wide open pasture in front of him.
“When I saw the ball being thrown, I knew that it was low,” Berg said, “so I was just focused on making the catch and once I made the catch I looked up and I just saw green grass and I was like, ‘Heck yeah! Let’s go score!’”
That was one of two interceptions, and the second touchdown, for Berg on the night. Robert Miranda had an interception on a fourth down play in the first half. The forced turnovers were a product of pressure being put on Marion’s quarterback. The Indians registered three sacks and a handful of tackles for losses on the night.
“It’s very big because, when we apply that pressure, a quarterback gets very squeamish and then he ends up throwing a pick like he did,” said senior defensive lineman Emmanuel Lugo, who finished with a pair of sacks. “So that pressure is, it’s good.”
The Indians also had to adjust on offense. They posted 405 yards of offense unofficially and only 151 of those came through the air.
Instead, with Aidan Borth and Payton Gonzales, along with Juan Lerma making his debut, the Indians pounded the ground for 254 yards rushing.
Gonzales finished with four carries for 41 yards and a touchdown. Senior quarterback Cole Andrus had two touchdowns on the ground to go with two through the air.
“I think the most important thing, as you saw, [was] our football team being able to run the football when that’s what the defense was allowing us,” coach Andrus said.
After two quick touchdowns on a three-yard run by Andrus after Marion fumbled a punt snap and 12-yard pass from Andrus to Berg, the Indians struggled offensively. They made the adjustment at halftime to lean more on their run game and it paid off.
“They were playing extra [defensive backs] all over the place. We just kept trying to hit a shot on them to try to put them away in the second quarter,” QB Andrus said. “We made mistakes and we decided to go smashmouth and just run the ball and it worked out for us. The offensive line, great, they played great tonight. They fought their butts off and made great holes.”
The Indians, typically an up-tempo, pass-oriented offense, hope they proved that teams will need to account for the run with their performance on Friday night.
“That’s great. Hopefully it shows a statement that we’re a balanced offense, that we can do anything that we need to,” QB Andrus continued, “and that we showed that we can adjust anything they put on us.”
Jourdanton will host Poteet (4-1, 1-0) in an early, yet pivotal, district matchup on Friday, Oct. 2, at 7:30 p.m.