It's tough enough trying to find a way to shackle and slow down McCracken County's Rasheed Jones.
But Paducah Tilghman suffered through some self-inflicted errors of its own in losing to the Mustangs 49-21 Saturday night at McRight Field.
With the loss, the all-time series between the Blue Tornado and McCracken County evens at one apiece.
"We've got some depth issues and in a hot game like this it's hard to overcome because they've got a good football team," Tilghman coach Mike Rogers said. "But we also had some miscues, and especially in the first half, that hurt us. We just didn't get it done. But our depth is what's going to hurt us, until we get some young guys prepared."
Jones simply had his hand in everything by scoring three touchdowns offensively on a 90-yard kickoff return, a 52-yard run and on a 40-yard screen pass. But he also helped set up a defensive score when he sacked Tilghman quarterback Jessie Dunigan and it turned into a 26-yard scoring return for Carter Holland.
The Mustangs' fumble return was the first of three turnovers they got from Tilghman, which also saw Morgan Alexander intercept Dunigan twice.
"Jones is a great player and a big-time playmaker," said Dunigan, who got the scoring going with his 17-yard touchdown pass to Sayveon McEwen with 6:27 left in the first quarter. "They had a really solid defense and they came up with the plays they needed to get the victory. I'm just going to try to keep my head up. We just didn't have enough."
Alexander's first pick with 3:35 left in the first quarter stalled the Tornado's drive at MCHS's 27. Then four plays later Jones sprinted 52 yards and put the Mustangs up 14-7 after Cameron Hartig's extra point.
Alexander's second pick came in the end zone and stopped a second PTHS drive with 5:54 left in the second quarter. The Mustangs didn't score on that possession, but it did take away a scoring opportunity from Tilghman.
And that proved to be important, because after McCracken County (1-0) went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, the Tornado took the next drive and needed two pays from Aaron Draw. The first was a 31-yard run that moved PTHS (0-1) to the MCHS 24. Then after a 10-yard penalty, Draw scampered in from the 34 with 3:44 left in the second. Logan Besaw's kick knotted things up at 14-all.
McCracken scored the next two times it touched the ball, its final possession of the first half on a 2-yard run by Davarious Jones with 1:25 left in the period and on its first drive of the third quarter that ended with Zyaire Hughes' 19-yard scoring pass to Alexander with 8:47 left in the frame.
Three possessions later, Dunigan lost the ball to Jones and Alexander ran in the fumble with 1:38 to go in the third. Hartig's kick put McCracken County up 35-14.
"I've told the kids, it's not how you handle winning, that's easy, because everyone is happy and good," Rogers said. "But it's how they are going to bounce back from adversity and how will they press forward and get better, or not. We've got good kids and we'll get better, because we have another tough game next week."
Dunigan atoned for the fumble when on the next possession he scooted 63 yards for a touchdown with 1:20 left in the third. Besaw's extra point cut the margin to 35-21.
McCracken County made it the final by scoring on its next two possessions. The first was Jones' 40-yard reception from Hughes with 10:55 to play. The second came on Cash Jones' 9-yard run with 7:04 left in the game. Both made both point afters.
Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow on Twitter @psunsports.
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