In the end, M.L. King just had too many weapons.
Class AAAAA No. 9 Stephenson barely hung around in the first half, but the Jaguars’ defense couldn’t figure out a way to stop the No. 2-ranked Lions in MLK’s 49-28 win.
After its offense had been stagnant for much of the game, Stephenson made two plays for making this a game with its first two sustained drives of the night, starting late in the third quarter.
The first went nine plays, covering 78 yards, and it was the Jaguars’ first multi-play touchdown march. With the Lions (8-0, 7-0 Region 6-AAAAA)missing the extra point after their previous touchdown, it made the score 27-21 as the third quarter wound down.
Their next drive covered 64 yards in eight plays, ending with an Evan Jones touchdown run to get back within six points, at 34-28 with 7:34 left.
But, as was the case most of the night, the defense had no answer for M.L. King’s balanced offense and quick-strike ability either time.
The Lions answered with backbreaking drives. The first went 84 yards in seven plays, the biggest being a 31-yard catch from Donald Clark. The touchdown made it 34-28. They followed that with a big kickoff return, followed by a 37-yard pass to Demarquis Polite-Bray (5 catches, 133 yards, 2 TD) that set up an easy Spencer Williams touchdown run to put the Jaguars (5-2, 5-2) away.
M.L. King dominated the first-half statbook, but Stephenson was right there in the one stat that matters – the one on the scoreboard.
The Lions had 296 total yards, including 210 for quarterback Monquavious Johnson through the air, to Stephenson’s 97. Of the Jags’ 97 first-half yards, 85 came on their first play from scrimmage.
M.L. King’s offense also had massive advantages in first-half plays (43-10), first downs (17-1) and time of possession (17:27-6:33). But penalties and a turnover were big blows that allowed the Jaguars to hang in there early.
Polite-Bray’s night could have been even bigger, but his first-quarter kickoff return for a touchdown was called back due to an illegal block.
Johnson was 17 of 23 for 321 yards and two touchdowns for the Lions. Teammates Jamel Smith (93 yards, 2 TD) and Williams (92 yards, 1 TD) almost hit 100 yards. Stephenson’s Evan Jones had 13 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns, the first coming on an 85-yard run on the Jaguars’ first play from scrimmage.
M 7 14 6 22 – 49
S 14 0 7 7 – 28
M – Demarquis Polite-Bray 14 pass from Monquavious Johnson (Bray kick)
S – Evan Jones 85 run (Wisdom Nzidee kick)
S – Ryan George 75 fumble return (Nzidee kick)
M – Monquavious Johnson 1 run (Presley Bray kick)
M – Polite-Bray 26 pass from Johnson (Bray kick)
M – Jamel Smith 4 run (kick missed)
S – Justin Holman 1 run (Nzidee kick)
M – Smith 2 run (Bray kick)
S – Jones 9 run (Nzidee kick)
M – Spencer Williams 4 run (Polite-Bray pass from Johnson)
M – Wesley Green 70 INT return (Bray kick)