JACOB Lewis appears to have picked up where he left off last year, and that’s certainly good news for Jackson County.
The senior quarterback, who earned all-state honorable mention honors in 2013, threw three touchdown passes and ran for another in just one half of football as the Panthers rolled to a 35-14 scrimmage win over Athens Academy Friday in Athens.
Lewis said his team has “a lot to work on definitely.”
“It’s your typical scrimmage game,” he said. “It’s not where you want to be. It’s not what you want to do offensively or defensively. But you’re improving.”
Lewis spread the ball around to his new receiving corps with Adrian Parsons, Caleb Smith and Antonio Strickland all catching touchdown passes.
“We’ve done a lot of seven-on-sevens and things like that but it's different when you get on the field,” coach Benji Harrison said. “But there’s no doubt they’re good players. When they get the ball in their hands, they’re athletic enough to do stuff with it, and they did that tonight.”
Lewis hit Parsons for a nine-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to get the Panthers on the board. Lewis then scored on a six-yard run in the second quarter.
Jackson County added two more scores before halftime to take a 28-14 lead. Lewis threw a seven-yard touchdown strike to Smith and a 12-yard touchdown pass to Strickland.
The Panther offense was without starting tailback Malik Tuck, but Harrison was pleased with the running backs that filled in for him.
“I feel good that we’ve got some depth at running back when we need it,” Harrison said.
Defensively, Jackson County gave up a first quarter touchdown on a very short field and allowed the Spartans to score again in the second quarter but settled down after that.
“I thought defensively we played pretty good,” Harrison said. “We ran to the football. We’ve still got to get better tackling. We had some missed tackles.”
Harrison highlighted the performance of junior linebacker Griffin McElvery.
“I thought Griffin McElvery played outstanding,” Harrison said. “But he’s expected to. He’s the captain of the team. He’s a good player.”
After Jackson County and Athens Academy combined for six touchdowns in a lengthy first half, the Panthers scored the only touchdown by either team in the second half when backup quarterback Caleb Matthews threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Zane Corley, who out-maneuvered several Spartan defenders to get into the end zone.
Now the focus turns to the season opener.
While local rivals East Jackson and Jefferson start their seasons with games on Aug. 22, the Panthers won’t play until Aug. 29 when they host Madison County.
Lewis said he certainly likes having the extra week to get ready.
“I definitely like having two weeks,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anybody in the world that wouldn’t want that.”
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