Athens Cedar Shoals isn’t in control of its own playoff destiny, but it's not about to make it easier for anyone else to push them out of contention. Rodney Willingham rushed for a team-best 63 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Cedar Shoals (3-4, 3-4 Region 8-AAAA) snapped a three-game losing streak and kept its postseason hopes alive with a 36-10 victory over Salem (4-4, 4-4).
“We came into this with a lot of pressure on us,” Willingham said. “But we came ready to work, and we told each other that we needed this game because we haven’t been to the playoffs in two years.”
Salem recorded the first quarter’s only points on a safety, but the Jaguars scored 29 consecutive points to squash any potential rally by the visitors.
The Seminoles did show some life in the final minutes of the game when Damion Gordon picked up 19 yards for a first down on a fake punt, and Licash Lackey had a nine-yard touchdown run and a successful two-point conversion with 3:57 remaining in in the game.
The boost was short-lived as Briandarious Cannon found a hole and broke through for a touchdown on the second play of the ensuing drive to make it 36-10.
The Jaguars’ first score of the game came after Cedar Shoals broke a trend of short possessions late in the first period with a 13-play drive and capped it with Willingham's seven-yard touchdown run around left end. The Jaguars opted to fake a point-after kick, and holder Santonio Hawes completed a pass to Tykendrik Roebuck to put Cedar Shoals ahead 8-2 a little over two minutes into the second quarter.
The Jaguars scored again on their next possession, this time on a 45-yard pass from Darius Jordan to Chris Middlebrooks that sent Cedar Shoals to halftime locker room with a 15-2 lead.
“It felt really good right then because it was only our second time this year being up at halftime, and that was against Rockdale,” Willingham said. “That was big for us.”
But it was the opening drive of the third quarter that turned out to be even more important as Darius Jordan hit L’Keith Brown with a 3-yard touchdown pass to get the hosts some distance.
“We knew the first five minutes of the second half was going to determine the ball game, so we knew we needed to come out and establish ourselves,” Jaguars coach Dreco Thomas said. “We took the kickoff, drove it down and scored, and that took a little life out of (Salem).”
After forcing back-to-back Salem punts, Cedar went ahead 29-2 on a 37-yard touchdown run by Willingham.
Madison Comes From Behind to Beat Rockdale
DANIELSVILLE - Madison County got a 15-yard touchdown pass with less than six seconds to play and Joey Sanderes nailed the extra point to give host Madison a 22-21 win over Rockdale. The Bulldogs led 14-0 and 21-7 in the fourth quarter before Madison (2-5) made its frantic come back, which include a touchdown pass and two-point conversion. Rockdale, which dropped its seventh consecutive game and fell to 1-7, played well up until the hosts’ rally, scoring on an 80-yard drive and getting James Baker’s 60-yard touchdown run.
“Our offensive line played extremely well, we put good pressure on them,” said Rockdale coach Mike Etheridge. “Our offense had a heck of a night, we played good defense too, 99 percent of the time. We’re very disappointed in the score, that’s just the way it goes.”
While Rockdale has its bye week coming up, Madison, which snapped a three-game losing streak, travels to Athens to play Clarke Central Friday.