Jackets can’t overcome early struggles vs. Kaufman

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The Mineola Yellowjackets football team will need to duplicate its late season winning streak from last season in order to make a deep run again this season, as the Jackets lost their second consecutive game to put their season record at 0-2.

On Friday the Jackets seemed out-sized and out-numbered in their 42-13 loss to the Kaufman Lions.

A slow start on both sides of the ball led to the Yellowjackets being down 27-0 at the end of the first quarter.

“Obviously this wasn’t how we wanted to start the game, but I thought our kids played hard and competed much better in the second half.  We have to give them (Kaufman) a lot of credit also, they are a good football team,” Mineola Head Coach Luke Blackwell said Sunday.

The Jackets struggled to limit the Lions’ big play ability as the team’s secondary gave up two receiving touchdowns to Kaufman junior receiver Cecil Gasper in the first quarter each of which were 30 yard passing plays.

“Defensively, we have to tackle better.  There were several plays where we had the ball bottled up and the running back was able to break several tackles and turn it in to a big play,” Blackwell said.

The Yellowjackets’ offense had only one big play of note in the first quarter when junior starting quarterback Shaw Franklin ran for 60 yards with 9:30 left in the quarter.

However the Jackets were unable to finish any of their offensive drives and did not reach the red zone at all in the first half.

Blackwell added that his offense will need to do a better job finishing drives with scores.

Early on the Lions used their big offensive and defensive lines to dominate the interior. The Lions had numerous runs between the tackles to stay ahead of the chains, and were able to bottle up senior running back Curtis London on numerous occasions. London finished with just 30 yards on 17 carries.

While the defense struggled in the first quarter, the remaining three quarters were a bright spot as the team only gave up two scores the rest of the way.

Sophomore defensive back Dalton Rodgers led the Jackets with 13 tackles, he was joined in double figure tackles by freshman defensive end Trevion Sneed and senior linebacker Preston Lankford who had 11 and 10 tackles respectively.

In the second half the Yellowjackets also had much more success on offense. The Jackets’ offense was led by Franklin who finished with 193 passing yards, and two touchdowns. While London struggled to get anything going on the ground he did contribute in the passing game catching four passes for 68 yards and a touchdown.

Franklin also led the Jackets in rushing with 128 yards on 19 rushes.

In ironic fashion, the Yellowjackets lost both of their first two games against the same two opponents in 2016 (Van and Kaufman) before winning 14 straight games to win the state championship.

“I think through adversity (the community) will learn a lot about the character and resilience of (our) team.  We have faced some adversity early and I feel like our kids are going to play hard and compete every week. I also know that we are very young and inexperienced in several spots and there are going to be some growing pains before we can get where we want to be. But, as long as we bring great attitude and effort every day, we will continue to improve and put ourselves in a good position to compete in district,” Blackwell said.

Head Coach Luke Blackwell and the Jackets will look to duplicate their performance in week three of last season with a repeat performance in 2017 against the Wills Point Tigers. In their week three match up last season the Jackets beat the Wills Point Tigers 36-3. The game will be held at Wills Point High School Friday at 7:30 p.m.

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