Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 30, 2012

Jackson, turnovers ruin Eagles’ attempt at an unbeaten season

Rocky Stanley
The Independent

BOWLING GREEN — Mayfield’s indomitable Jonathan Jackson and a flood of turnovers washed out Fairview’s bid for a perfect finish.

Jackson scored four touchdowns and outgained the state’s No. 1 rushing attack by himself Friday afternoon in the Class A championship game.

Along with failing to corral Jackson, Fairview uncharacteristically self-destructed by losing five turnovers and an interception.

Result: Mayfield thumped the Eagles 55-8 at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium for the most lopsided margin in Class A final history.

“They are a great team, no doubt about it, and we made them look even better by turning the ball over that many times,” Fairview coach Nathan McPeek said. “You can’t do that in big-time games.”

It marked the ninth state title since 1977 for the Cardinals, including two romps in the last three years.

Mayfield crushed Hazard 47-6 in 2010, then lost the rematch last season.

“We know what this felt like last year and we didn’t want that to happen again,” Jackson said. “We wanted to finish out on top and that’s what we did.”

Jackson made sure of that in his fourth consecutive state title game.

Fairview’s first-team defense had allowed only 6.2 points per game all season, but Jackson left would-be tacklers in his wake by piling up 278 yards on 19 carries, including TDs of 17, 31 and 39 yards.

Prior to that, Jackson caught a swing pass from quarterback Jake Guhy, pulled away from a defender and ran 56 yards to the end zone.    

“You guys that have not seen Jonathan, that’s what he has done every game,” Mayfield coach Joe Morris said. “The first guy just doesn’t get him. If Jonathan Jackson is not the best player in the state, I don’t know who is.”

After giving up two early touchdowns, Fairview had a golden opportunity to go ahead before the end of the first quarter.

Senior fullback Chris Brewer, who rushed for 148 yards, broke a 54-yarder and Elijah King scored from 26 yards out on the next play. Devon Turner’s two-point conversion run trimmed Mayfield’s lead to 14-8.

Fairview’s Cody Stone then recovered an onside kick at the Cardinals’ 36. Two plays later, Brewer rambled up the middle for 24 yards to the 12, but the Eagles fumbled the ball away on the next play to begin a frustrating trend for the team that came in 14-0.

After the fumble recovery, Mayfield drove 87 yards for Jackson’s third touchdown. Deion Jackson went 65 yards on a wide receiver screen to make it 28-8.

Fairview had two red-zone chances before halftime, but came away empty-handed again thanks to an interception and fumbled snap.

“We had not done that all year,” McPeek said of the turnover woes.

Mayfield (14-1) broke the game open with four touchdowns in the first nine minutes of the second half. The last of the four started a rolling clock with 3:23 still left in the third quarter.

Along with Jackson’s monster performance, Guhy completed 7-of-14 passes for 175 yards and two scores.

“Jonathan takes so much pressure off me, the receivers and our line,” said the junior quarterback, who finished the season with 34 TD passes and only one interception.

“I can’t describe the feeling,” Guhy said. “After coming up short last year, I’ve had this date circled on the calendar for a long time.”     

Jackson, a highly sought-after linebacker, called Fairview a tough opponent despite the final score.

“They run the ball, and they run the ball really, really, really well,” Jackson said. “But, you know, I think that played in our favor a little bit. We like to stop the run.”

The Eagles finished with 275 yards rushing – three less than Jackson.

“We moved the ball,” McPeek said. “Mayfield was the better team and won, but it doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this season. It’s the best team I ever coached and we will miss the nine seniors.”

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.