ODENVILLE — The dream season came to a close for the St. Clair County Saints Friday as they were unable to keep up with the J.O. Johnson Jaguars Friday. J.O. Johnson improved to 11-1 with a 48-20 victory over the Saints in the second round of the AHSAA Class 4A state playoffs.
All season, the Saints have depended on senior running back Kartez Carr and signal caller Matt Hicks. SCCHS head coach Alan Lee said the offense was unable to get on track all night — in the first round of the state playoffs against Alexandria, Carr rushed for over 300 yards and scored four touchdowns. The Jaguars held Carr to 120 yards on 25 carries, and held him out of the end zone altogether.
“J.O. Johnson has a very good football team,” Lee said. “We made too many mistakes and could never get anything going offensively. It seemed like every time we had a good play, we would then have a sack or a penalty that would set us back and just put us in a hole.”
The Jaguars scored on their first two possessions, and took a 12-0 lead after the first quarter. The first touchdown came on a 38-yard pass from quarterback Wesley Bailey to Charles Woodard with 7:48 remaining, and the second came on a six-yard run by Woodard.
St. Clair punched it in on its third possession, driving 70 yards in eight plays. The touchdown came on fourth down and nine from the Jaguar 22. Hicks threw to Billy Kirby, and he did the rest, weaving his way through the Jaguar defense and scoring with 10:20 remaining in the second quarter. The two-point conversion was no good and the score was 12-6.
The Saint score fired up the defense as they held and forced Johnson to punt, and the Saints were back in business at their own 19. On the very next play, Carr picked up 19 yards, but fumbled at the end of the run, and the Jaguars recovered at the St. Clair 38.
Seven plays later, Johnson extended its lead with an 11-yard touchdown run by Hakeem Woods. The two-point conversion was good by Woods to make the score 20-6 with 4:05 remaining before halftime.
The Saints were forced to punt, but two plays later Johnson fumbled and Willie Buchanon recovered for St. Clair at the Jaguar 28.
Five plays later, Hicks scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 15 seconds remaining in the first half. It made the halftime score 20-12.
The third quarter was filled with punts and fumble recoveries by both squads. The St. Clair fumble was deep inside its own territory that the Jaguars recovered at the Saint 16-yard line. Three plays later, Woods scored from one-yard out to make the score 26-12 headed into the fourth quarter.
On the first play of the final quarter, Charles Woodard intercepted a Saint pass and returned it 65 yards for a score to make it 32-12 with 11:39 remaining in the game.
The Saints turned the ball over on downs on their next possession, and it took the Jaguars only two plays to light up the scoreboard again. This time, it was a 50-yard run by Woods to make the score 40-12 with 9:16 left in the game.
Again, St. Clair turned the ball over on downs, and three plays later, Bailey scored on a 43-yard scamper that made it 48-12 with 5:30 remaining to play.
On their final possession of the game and the season, the Saints drove 64 yards in eight plays to score the final points of the game. Playing in his last game as a Saint, Carr had runs of 4, 1, 20, 5, and 4 yards in the drive.
The touchdown came on a 15-yard pass from Hicks to Joshua Hardrick. The two-point conversion was good to make the final score 48-20.
Lee said the defense played well early on, and got some turnovers.
“We just didn’t do what we needed to do early on in this ballgame offensively,” Lee said.
Lee said he was very proud of the season and advancing to the second round of the state playoffs.
“They deserve a lot of credit for that,” Lee said. “It’s a disappointment tonight, but I am proud of what they accomplished throughout the year.”
As the seconds ran off the clock, Lee put his arm around Carr on the sideline.
“I just told him how proud I was of him being the leader he was this year on the team,” Lee said. “He is an outstanding player, and I do believe he could play at the next level.”
St. Clair finished the season with a record of 6-6.