In a game that wasn’t decided until the final minutes, East Jackson lost a shootout to Morgan County 45-31 at home Friday (Nov. 1).
Eagle running back Nino Brown — coming off a 240-yard effort the previous week — scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving), including two in the fourth quarter. His final touchdown cut Morgan County’s lead to 38-31 with 6:02 remaining in the contest. But the Bulldogs (7-2, 4-1 Region 8-AAA) — the second-place team in the region — put the game away with a touchdown with 2:03 left.
"Our guys were excited to be in a game only down seven (points) late in the fourth and know you've got a shot ... just be in that situation, that competitive environment in the game against a quality program like Morgan is obviously encouraging," East Jackson coach Cameron Pettus said.
In addition to Brown’s three scores, the Eagles (3-6, 0-5 Region 8-AAA) got a touchdown reception from R.J. White (four catches for 67 yards) and a field goal from Brice Vandiver. Freshman Randy Smith made his first start, filling in for an injured Greg Huggs (high-ankle sprain), and threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-20 passing.
"It was his first official start, and I thought he did really well," Pettus said.
Meanwhile, Brown's night included 148 rushing yards on 34 carries in addition to his three scores (one of which was a 36-yard touchdown catch). He's closing in on 1,200 yards rushing on the season with 1,164 yards through nine games.
"We couldn't be more excited about a young man," Pettus said. "He's just grown and developed this year as a leader and as a football player."
The Eagles' performance in the loss drew praise from Morgan County's coach, Bill Malone, during the postgame handshake with Pettus. The Bulldogs beat East Jackson 45-0 last year.
"He said, 'Trust me, from the outside looking in, you guys are doing great things and you can just tell you guys are building something,'" Pettus said.