For the first time since the Eisenhower administration, the Jourdanton Indians hold bragging rights over their cross-county rival Pleasanton Eagles.
Jourdanton’s trademark explosive nature helped the Indians overcome a slow start in the first half for a 35-7 win at Eagle Stadium on Friday night. Of Jourdanton’s 35 unanswered points, 29 were scored in the third quarter while their defense pitched a shutout in the second half.
It was revenge for Jourdanton after losing the previous meetings with Pleasanton in 2016 and 2017, when the teams renewed their rivalry after a decades-long hiatus.
“We finally did it,” said senior receiver Jarel Lilly. “We’ve been wanting to play them for a while now. I didn’t get to play them my freshmen year  because of a concussion. Now, I’m back for my senior to beat them.”
Lilly was the spark plug for the Indians after being held to just 73 yards of total offense in the first half and trailing 7-6 at halftime. On Jourdanton’s first two drives of the second half, Lilly caught touchdown passes of 59 and 60 yards on identical plays over the middle to give the Indians a 21-7 advantage with 5:47 left in the third quarter.
Lilly finished with four catches and 139 yards to go with his two scores.
On a night when Pleasanton’s defense gave the Indians fits for most of the game, finding a way to get the explosive plays
was encouraging for Jourdanton Head Coach Darrell Andrus. He would just like to see it earlier than in the third quarter with their backs up against the wall.
He also hopes to find a way to get his running game on the right track after being bottled up for 89 yards on the ground unofficially.
“I’d sure like to do it a little bit sooner than the third quarter,” Andrus said. “That’ll be a message that we talk about a little bit and then back to the drawing board on a running game. We’re just not clicking consistently there, we’re gonna have to put together a better run game if we want to get where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Though the night was tough on the ground, the return of Aidan Borth was felt as the senior ran for 32 yards on eight carries with one touchdown. That helped Jourdanton control the clock when they needed it.
“I think that’s what he brings to our team, you know, and he’s just a great kid and it killed him to be out versus Calallen,” Andrus said. “We know we’re going to have to rely on them and that’s just going to open up…a balanced attack and the vertical and short game in the passing game. I don’t know our stats but it sure felt like a bottled up first half.”
It was bottled up because of Pleasanton’s stellar play in the first half, which included an interception by Eagle senior Ashon Thompson. Pleasanton even struck first on a three-yard run by QB Sean Ramos on the first play in the second quarter.
“Well I mean just to come back from last week and to battle against a [state-ranked team] is encouraging,” Liska said, alluding to multiple rankings that had Jourdanton in the top 20. “You know people say that Pleasanton doesn’t play anybody. Coach Andrus and I wanted to play this game because I wanted to play somebody early in the season to get our guys ready for district. Our goal is to win a district game. Yeah, we sure want to win our preseason, non district games, and we’re getting close. We’re getting close. I mean the scoreboard doesn’t doesn’t say it right now, obviously, but our kids are fighting, we’re getting better, and we’re going to get better.”
Ramos finished the game 4-of-17 passing for 26 yards and picked up six yards and a touchdown on five carries. Toby Garner had 40 yards on 16 carries to lead the team.
Jourdanton was able to respond as the first half wound down. Brett Berg intercepted Ramos and returned the ball to Pleasanton’s 11. That would eventually set up a one-yard QB sneak by Cole Andrus with 12 seconds left to pull within 7-6 after a bad snap on the extra-point. The defense kept Jourdanton in the game in that first half, holding Pleasanton to 48 yards of total offense and the one score. The Eagles were limited to 72 yards of total offense for the game.
“I was very proud of our defense bailing us out time and time again,” coach Andrus said.
The first half was a sign that showed Liska his team was progressing, holding Jourdanton to 73 yards of total offense in that first half. He hopes they can build off that and an environment that rivaled a playoff atmosphere, despite COVID restrictions limiting the number of fans and eliminating visiting bands at Eagle Stadium.
“Quality atmosphere. I mean, if it wouldn’t have been COVID, this place would have been crazy,” Liska said. “Coach Andrus does a good job over there. Our kids, they respect each other and they play hard against each other and that’s what it’s all about just playing, getting on the field and being able to play a good clean football game.”
Jourdanton (2-1) will host Canyon Lake (2-1) next Friday, Sept. 18, at 7:30 p.m. Pleasanton (0-3) will travel to Devine (2-1) on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Passing: JHS- Cole Andrus: 15-28, 212 yds., 3 TDs, 1 INT. PHS- Sean Ramos: 4-17, 26 yds., 1 INT.
Rushing: JHS- Nick Cordova: 11 car., 57 yds.; Aidan Borth: 8 car., 32 yds., 1 TD. PHS- Toby Garner: 16 car., 40 yds.; Ramos: 5 car., 6 yds., 1 TD
Receiving: JHS- Jarel Lilly: 4 rec., 139 yds., 2 TDs; Clyde Schuchart: 2 rec., 11 yds., 1 TD; Cordova: 3 rec., 32 yds. PHS- Ashon Thompson: 2 rec., 15 yds.; Diego Luna: 2 rec., 11 yds.