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After 1st loss, Jaguars hope to get back on track

  • Janine Wilson/Special to JCST The Jaguars get set to storm the field.
  • Janine Wilson/Special to JCST Jabari Williams sprints near the goal line in RHHS’s 48-12 loss to Colleton County.
  • Anthony Garzilli/JCST QB Derald Nelson and coach Jahmaal Nelson talk strategy.
  • Anthony Garzilli/JCST The defense gets set to make a play.

In the opening quarter of Ridgeland-Hardeeville’s 48-12 loss Friday to Colleton County, the Jaguars played like a team that was going to win. The Class AAA Jaguars had a 3-0 record entering the game and they took a 6-0 lead into the second quarter.

But then they lost their roar.

The visiting Class AAAA Cougars scored three touchdowns for a 21-6 halftime lead and never looked back.

“Guys started hanging their heads after the second touchdown,” the Jags’ Ronald Zimmerman said. “I’m not letting that carry into the next game.”

“I’m not, either,” Jaguars coach Jahmaal Nelson added.

After Robert Dupont sacked Craig Grant to help end the Cougars’ opening drive, the Jags’ offense attacked.

Derald Nelson hit Zimmerman for a 26-yard pass to the Cougars 16. On the next play, Jabbari Williams ran 8 yards to give the Jags second-and-2 at the 8.

Then, when the Jags found themselves in a fourth-and-9 hole at the 15, they responded with Nelson hitting Zimmerman for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.

Zimmerman finished with five receptions for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

On the ensuing possession, Malik White, Freddie Aiken, and Adam Cooper made key stops to return the ball to the Jags’ offense. After an 11-yard run by Aiken, however, the Jaguars went nowhere.

Early in the second quarter, the Cougars found life when Grant found room to run. On third-and-5 at the Jaguars’ 38, when it appeared RHHS had the quarterback stopped in the backfield, Grant broke free for 11 yards and a first down.

Four plays later, Grant ran 4 yards for a touchdown. The extra point gave the Cougars a 7-6 lead.

“He’s a good player, a big guy,” Coach Nelson said of Grant. “But when you’re the defense, you have to toughen up and make the plays.”

Upon getting the ball back, Aiken ran 17 yards to the Jags’ 45. However, a delay-of-game penalty and a series of bad plays stalled the Jaguars.

The Cougars capitalized with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Grant to Trakell Murray for a 14-6 lead.

Then a Jaguars fumble led to a 17-yard touchdown run by Nick Wilkey to make it 21-6.

In the closing minutes of the first half, Williams ran 52 yards on a lateral from Zimmerman to give the Jags a first-and-10 at the Cougars 24.

Four plays later, however, Nelson was intercepted.

“Derald made some mistakes, and guys were dropping balls,” Coach Nelson said. “We can learn from our mistakes.”

In the second half, the errors continued on both sides of the ball, with the lone bright spot coming when Nelson and Zimmerman connected for a 44-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Next week the Jaguars (3-1) host non-region Hilton Head High (2-1), which is coming off a 37-34 loss in double overtime to Bluffton. The Seahawks are a Class AAAA school.

“I made it a point to put Colleton County and Hilton Head on our schedule,” Coach Nelson said. “Playing those bigger schools helps us get ready for the region.”

The Jaguars’ region games start Oct. 6 at May River.

“Right now we can’t give up,” Coach Nelson said. “I told the boys we can learn from a bad game—but let’s not make it two bad games.”

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