Jaidan Jackson did so much that even his head coach underestimated how many all-purpose yards he had gained.
Consider it another birthday surprise for Jefferson Middle head coach Chris Woods, who had already seen Jackson take ownership of his previous mistakes in front of his teammates.
And then, Woods witnessed Jackson atone for them as he helped the Elks remain in the Middle Eight Conference championship hunt with a 36-14 win over Meadowview at Burke-Toney Stadium on Tuesday night.
Having accumulated 142 yards on 11 carries, Jackson had one more big play left in him as the fourth quarter faded.
After a Meadowview touchdown, Jackson gathered in the ensuing kickoff on the run at his own 37 and took off to his left where he found running room, busting loose for a 63-yard touchdown return with 1:03 remaining. The kickoff return lifted Jackson to 205 all-purpose yards on the night.
Oh, and Jackson booted a 40-yard punt too.
“He’s a good kid who just wants to win,” Woods said of Jackson. “Also very humble. Jaidan will be the first to tell you ‘I can’t do it without my line.’”
That offensive line paved the way for a 252-yard rushing performance by the Elks (3-1 Middle Eight), as Emmitt Newman carried 13 times for 71 yards and 2 touchdowns while quarterback Casen Willard kept 6 times for 42 yards.
Willard’s final carry all but clinched the game for JMS as he kept on the option right for a 17-yard touchdown to cap a 5-play, 47-yard drive with 1:35 left after Meadowview (1-3) had turned the ball over on downs.
But the Vikings didn’t fold, as Keagen Seals grabbed a short squib kick in midair and returned it 27 yards to the Elks’ 23-yard line. After a 20-yard run by Quavion Mincey, Trevor Foulks powered his way over the goal line standing up from the 3 to make the deficit 28-14 with 1:03 remaining.
Jackson then countered with his kickoff return, the second time he had found an answer for a Vikings touchdown.
The first came late in the third quarter when Meadowview cut the margin in half at 16-8.
On the next offensive snap, Jackson dashed 65 yards for a touchdown and a 22-8 lead.
Newman, Jefferson’s leading tackler with 7 1/2 stops including a sack and 3 TFL, was responsible for the Elks’ first two touchdowns.
The Elks embarked on a 7-play scoring drive at the Meadowview 46 in the first quarter, with Newman scoring on fourth-and-3 from 25 yards out and then running in the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
Ryan Smith recovered a fumble to set up Newman’s second touchdown, which came 10 plays later on fourth-and-goal from the 5 after Jackson ran for 44 yards on the drive’s first four plays. After Newman bulled his way up the middle for the score, Jackson ran for the 2-point conversion and a 16-0 halftime lead.
“Emmitt is getting better and better and better and better,” Woods said. “At times, (Jackson) would run and he’d get tired and he’d say to let Emmitt run.”
Meadowview came out swinging in the third quarter as Mincey broke up a fourth-down pass and then caught a 19-yard reception from Foulks, who then kept for 19 more. Foulks then hit Seth Southard for 19 yards to the JMS 6-yard line before keeping for a 4-yard touchdown three plays later. Mincey’s 2-point conversion cut Jefferson’s lead to 16-8 with 1:44 in the third.
Foulks temporarily left the game early with an injury but battled through the pain to complete 5-of-11 passes for 62 yards while keeping the ball 17 times for 73 yards.
“(Trevor’s heart) bleeds into the rest of the team. You saw what it meant to the team when he came back on the field. They just picked it up around him,” Meadowview coach Logan Callahan said. “Our kids play tough and play for each other. Whenever I started, I told them we have to change the culture and focus on the team. This group gets it. I love going out on the field with them every day. I love coaching them. They just make this game enjoyable because they embody what it’s about.”
Mincey gained 47 yards on 7 carries while catching 3 passes for 39.
Skyler Arwood led the Vikings in stops with 8 1/2 including 1 TFL, while J.C. Hines and Kade Denton were both involved in 2 TFL and Southard 1.
Meadowview, which will play the rest of its schedule at Burke-Toney Stadium, takes on West View as the visiting team at 5:30 p.m. next week while Jefferson visits Rutledge for a 6 p.m. kickoff.