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Cowboys flash past Hilliard

Rick Patrick

It took very little time on the dark and rainy evening of Friday, Nov. 15, for the Madison County High School (MCHS) Cowboys to establish instant dominance over the Red Flashes of Hilliard High School in the Region Three Semi-final game of the Florida High School Athletic Association's (FHSAA) Class 1A football playoffs. The Cowboys racked up 438 yards of offense on their way to a 56-0 rout of the Red Flashes.

The Cowboys scored early and often, beginning with a 58-yard touchdown run by Derrion Staten on the Cowboys' first possession of the contest. After Thomas Miller booted the first of his successful point-after-touchdown (PAT) Kicks, the score was 7-0, with 10:42 remaining in the opening period. The Red Flashes' first offensive possession was cut short when Rodderick Johnson, Jr. picked off a pass at mid-field. The Cowboys quickly capitalized when Vinsonta Allen hit Zechariah Jones with a 50-yard touchdown pass. Miller's PAT was good and the score was 14-0 as the clock approached the midway mark of the first quarter. The Red Flashes began their next drive at their own 20-yard line. The Cowboy defense moved the Red Flashes backward, thanks in part to a big tackle-for-loss (TFL) by Demarvion Brown. The Red Flashes were forced to punt and the Cowboys' offense was again on the field, this time starting at their own 35-yard line. The Cowboys effectively moved the ball down the field and the drive was capped off when Allen was hit as he pitched the ball and Staten alertly grabbed the pigskin and toted it 14 yards to the end-zone. Miller again booted the ball over the goalposts and the score was 21-0, with 3:59 still to play in the first quarter. The Red Flashes were pinned deep again to begin their next offensive drive at their own 12-yard line. The drive went three-and-out and after a very short punt, the Cowboys had the ball at the Red Flashes' 10-yard line. Not allowing such an opportunity to go to waste, Allen hit Jones again with a 10-yard touchdown toss-and-catch. Miller's PAT was good and the score was 28-0 with 2:41 remaining in the opening period. The Red Flashes began their next drive at their own 20-yard line. The Red Flashes moved the ball to mid-field as the first quarter came to a close, with the Cowboys firmly in control, 28-0.

After the Red Flashes stalled at mid-field, they punted to the Cowboys, who took over at their own 17-yard line. Then, Jacoleman Young galloped 73-yards to the end-zone for another Cowboy touchdown. Miller's foot added another PAT and the score was 35-0, early in the second quarter.The Cowboys got another break when the Red Flashes mishandled the ensuing kickoff and the Cowboys recovered the ball at the Hilliard 25-yard line. The opportunistic Cowboys quickly took advantage when Allen hit Staten with a 30-yard screen pass that resulted in Cowboy touchdown number six for the evening. Miller made the score 42-0, with 9:20 still to play before intermission. The next Hilliard drive started at the 31-yard line, but went three-and-out and the Cowboys had the ball again at their own 43-yard line. Aside from numerous penalties during the contest, one of the only Cowboy miscues came when a bad snap was recovered by Hilliard at the Cowboys' 25-yard line. The Red Flashes were unable to take advantage, thanks to an interception by Chalon Howard that gave the ball back to the Cowboys at the Hilliard 40-yard line. The Cowboys added to their growing scoreboard total when Allen scrambled for a 30-yard, touchdown run as the pocket collapsed around him. After Miller kicked another PAT, the score was 49-0, with four minutes remaining in the first half of play. The Red Flashes began their next drive at the 36-yard line, but the drive resulted in a turnover on downs. The Cowboys were able to simply run the clock out from there and the score was 49-0 at halftime.

With a continuously running clock, the second half went quickly. By now, the Cowboys were playing several younger players, many of whom had come up from the junior varsity team. Neither team had successful drives in their early possessions of the second half. The score remained 49-0 at the end of the third period. In the early moments of the final quarter, the Red Flashes were forced into a turnover on downs. When the Cowboys took over, back-up quarterback Mitch Rutherford hit Johnathan Akins on a pass that resulted in a 68-yard, Cowboy touchdown. Miller once again did his thing and the score was 56-0 with six minutes left on the clock. Those final moments ticked away quickly and the Cowboys managed to hold onto the 56-0 shut-out victory over the Red Flashes.

Allen went six-for-eight through the air for 107 yards and three touchdown passes. Zechariah Jones was his number one target with two receptions for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Rutherford went one-for-one passing for 68 yards and one touchdown to Akins. On the ground, Staten had 91 yards on four carries with two touchdowns. Allen had 52 rushing yards on six rushing attempts and one rushing touchdown. Young amassed 87 yards on two rushes with one touchdown. Defensively, Jay West had eight tackles, including one TFL.

Next, the Cowboys will host the Fighting Tigers of Union County in the Region Three Final, on Friday, Nov. 22. The Tigers are the number six seed in Region Three and are coming into the game after upsetting the number two seed Lafayette High School Hornets, 32-14, in the Region Three Semi-final. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Boot Hill Stadium, on the MCHS campus. Due to FHSAA restrictions, the game will not be streamed on Facebook, but will be broadcast on 107.5 FM and can be heard online at

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