The Alcovy Tigers marched out to their first 3-0 start since 2009 Thursday night, defeating Jackson at 35-7 at Sharp Stadium.
The Tigers limited Jackson to just three rushing yards and picked up three interceptions throughout the first half. The stout defensive start led the way to give the Red Devils their worst start since 1968.
Alcovy quarterback Tristen Payne connected with wideout Jaylin Penny for a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, as Penny racked up over 100 yards receiving in the first half alone.
The Red Devils scored a late touchdown with under three minutes to go in the game, but Alcovy’s early scoring onslaught was too much for Jackson’s anemic offense to overcome.
“I’ve said all along that our defense has to carry us early,” Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffman said. “Jackson is a pretty good team and they did force us into some mistakes tonight. We have to get better and keep working, but it was a very good defensive half of football over the first two quarters.”
Payne found Penny twice in the opening quarter for touchdowns, hitting Penny on the game’s opening drive for a 31-yard touchdown score. The Tigers drove the ball 61 yards on their opening scoring drive before Payne and Penny hooked up for the score. Penny glided down the sideline past the Red Devils’ defense for the open grab, giving Alcovy a 7-0 lead after a successful Jason Trowbridge extra point with 10:10 left in the first period.
The Tigers’ defense found the end zone for the first of three scores on the night on the Red Devils’ first drive of the game. Inside Alcovy territory, the Red Devils’ Everett Pope threw a pass down field into the hands of linebacker Okon Godwin. Godwin returned the interception 62 yards for the score, extending the Tigers’ lead to 14-0 seven minutes into the game.
Payne found Penny for the Tigers’ third score as time expired in the first quarter, hitting his receiver on a 16-yard fade route deep in the back of the end zone. Penny’s grab gave him 65 receiving yards and two scores before the start of the second half, pushing the Tigers ahead 21-0.
“We wanted to keep things simple tonight on offense and I think that’s what helped us,” Hoffman said. “We kept to our base offense and ran it well. Jaylin is as good as they come catching the ball. He can make plays and we needed his offense tonight.”
The Tigers limited the Red Devils to just 17 yards of total offense in the first half, carrying a 21-point lead into halftime.
Alcovy added pair of scores in the second half, the first coming on a 3-yard interception return from Godwin with 10:56 to go in the contest. Jason Mobley added the Tigers’ final score with a fumble recovery in the end zone. Mobley’s touchdown gave Alcovy a 35-0 lead with 3:52 left in the game.
The Red Devils added a late score when Pope found Rontavious Miller open for a 20-yard touchdown pass, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 35-7 with 2:27 left in the contest. Miller’s late touchdown grab capped off a 65-yard touchdown drive for the Red Devils, but Jackson’s late push came too late to threaten the Tigers’ lead.
Payne finished the game 7-of-12 passing for 136 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 49 yards on the ground with 16 carries.
Jared Farley finished with eight carries for 31 yards for the Tigers.
Penny closed the contest with five catches for 116 yards and two scores.
Jackson running back De’Eric Bell finished with 18 carries for 20 total yards, while Pope closed the game on 3-of-7 passing for 34 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Alcovy moves to 3-1 with the win with a road date looming against Luella on Sept. 27.