By ADAM PRUIETT
Very few high school football players have the talent and ability of Austin Hines.
He is, after all, Jeffersonville’s all-time program leader in rushing touchdowns.
But senior Shawn Rouson sure looked a lot like the injured star on Friday night at Blair Field.
That was especially true on an electrifying 80-yard touchdown run that seemed to singlehandedly rejuvenate the struggling Devils. It happened in the third quarter and put Jeff ahead for good as it piled up three more scores in a 33-7 victory over Jennings County.
In their regular season and Hoosier Hills Conference finale, the Devils broke a four-game losing streak and improved to 5-4 overall and 4-3 in league play. With the win, Jeff finished in sole possession of fourth place in the HHC and in the upper half of the league standings.
The game with Jennings County (3-6, 3-4) was much closer than the final score indicated. After a sloppy first half plagued by penalties on both sides, the Panthers took a 7-6 lead with 8:31 left in the third quarter on a 16-yard interception return for a touchdown by Austin Grunden.
Two plays earlier, Jeff wide receiver Isaiah Blanton turned a reverse into a 74-yard touchdown but the play, holding true to form up to that point, was called back due to holding.
It seemed to get worse for the Devils when the Panthers recovered an onside kick after Gruden’s touchdown and moved into position for a field goal, but the 39-yard attempt by Adrian Kirchner never had a chance.
That set the stage for Rouson, who finished with 162 yards on 12 carries.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, the senior tailback was handed the ball by sophomore quarterback Jamal Britt and was met by a would-be tackler for a likely short gain. However, Rouson spun out of the tackle and like a slingshot zoomed into a wide opening created on the reverse side. When Rouson reached the end zone, he had raced 80 yards and given Jeff the lead.
On the two-point conversion, Britt started to scramble and, at the last second before defenders converged on him, he flipped to junior wide receiver Chris Campbell for the 14-7 lead.
All the frustration that had built at Jeff over the last month during a four-game skid seemed to be vented after the spectacular run and conversion. The Devils, who opened the season with three straight 60-point scoring performances but couldn’t crack 30 over their last four, found the end zone on three straight possessions.
Britt threw a rainbow that Dionte Allen corralled for a 24-yard gain, and then the 6-foot-4, 280-pound tight end lined up at fullback and rammed in a 5-yard touchdown run. He followed on the next drive with a 13-yard TD catch from Britt, a score that was set up by senior Tony Croom’s interception.
Jeff quickly got the ball back when Jennings County muffed a squib kick on the kickoff. Senior tight end Dalton Adkins toed the right sideline in taking a screen pass from Britt 26 yards to the end zone for a fitting conclusion to Jeff’s revitalized half of offense.
While the final score might have been misleading, Jennings County’s point total wasn’t. Jeff’s defense gave up a few long runs to running back Preston Teltow, but the Devils were largely unbending, especially after intermission.
Britt played one of his finest games in his young career, completing 14 of 22 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns. He added a 5-yard TD run on Jeff’s first drive of the game.
Campbell had four catches for 86 yards, Allen added four for 77 and Blanton grabbed five for 68.
Teltow was Jennings County’s offense, finishing with 150 yards on 34 carries. The Panthers completed a single pass — a 6-yarder by Dakota Bott on a fake punt.
Penalties played a major role in the first half. Jeff gained twice the amount of yards as Jennings County — 205 to 102 — but every time the Devils had something going a yellow flag seemed to thwart their progress. Jeff had 60 yards in penalties in the first quarter alone.
It was a second-quarter penalty, however, that defined the first half for the Devils. On the first pass attempt made by Panthers quarterback Conner Byram, Jeff sophomore Brandon Coleman broke nicely on the throw and intercepted it to set the Devils up at the Jennings County 22.
Jeff advanced the ball to the 9 and, in the midst of second-and-goal, was called for an ineligible receiver downfield. It was the Devils’ eighth penalty of the half and, after an unsuccessful run, Britt was sacked for a 13-yard loss to force Jeff into a long field goal attempt. The 43-yarder was missed by junior Fahuwu Momoh.
In the first quarter, Blanton made a stellar fingertip catch and Campbell followed with a terrific tackle-breaking reception for a big gain. Both were negated due to penalty.
Jennings County was content to feed the ball to Teltow before halftime, running him on all but two plays. The Panthers had varied success: He collected 102 yards, but Jennings County had only true scoring threat — a fourth-and-1 on the Jeff 28-yard line that the Devils stuffed.
JEFFERSONVILLE 33, JENNINGS COUNTY 7
Jennings Co. 0 7 0 0— 7
Jeffersonville 6 0 8 19—33
Je — Jamal Britt 5 run (pass failed), 9:27.
JC — Austin Grunden 16 interception return (Adrian Kirchner kick), 7:07.
Je — Shawn Rouson 80 run (Chris Campbell pass from Britt), 1:08.
Je — Dionte Allen 5 run (run failed), 7:40.
Je — Allen 13 pass from Britt (run failed), 7:13.
Je — Dalton Adkins 26 pass from Britt (Momoh Fahuwu kick), 6:51.
Jennings County (1-7-6-2): Conner Byram 0-6-0-2, Dakota Bott 1-1-6-0.
Jeffersonville (16-24-281-0): Britt 14-22-267-0, Allen 2-2-14-0.
Jennings County (41-157): Preston Teltow 34-150, Bott 6-6, Byram 1-1.
Jeffersonville (30-188): Rouson 12-162, Isaiah Blanton 2-34, Campbell 1-8, Brandon Coleman 1-0, Allen 4-0, Brenden Bassett 2-minus-5, Britt 8-minus-11.
Jennings County: Teltow 1-6.
Jeffersonville: Blanton 5-68, Campbell 4-86, Allen 4-77, Adkins 1-26, David Morales 1-13, Rouson 1-11.