While already a historic night, the Augusta Prep Cavaliers and Thomas Jefferson Academy Jaguars made Prep’s first Friday night lights home game memorable with some seriously exciting football.
The Jaguars took advantage of five first-half Cavalier fumbles to break out to a 30-0 second-quarter lead. The Cavaliers didn’t give up and cut the lead to 38-17 by halftime and tied the game at 38 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers got back into the game by recovering three Jaguar fumbles and picking off a pass. A Cavalier turnover late in the game proved to be the final straw. The Jaguars scored on the ensuing play with 55 seconds left in the game and held on for the 44-38 win.
The Cavaliers dropped to 2-1 with the loss and the Jaguars improved to 1-2.
Even with the loss, head coach Harry Bacheller said the new lights and scoreboard made it a special night, four years in the making, for the Cavaliers and their supporters
“I’m humbled to be part of the program,” he said.
With a large crowd on hand, the Cavaliers were aggressive from the start, recovering an onside kick to begin the game. That, however, turned into their first fumble two plays later and set the tone for the rest of the quarter.
They trailed 30-0 before they found a spark as quarterback Jack Owen hit Franklin Sims for a 36-yard touchdown with 4:33 left in the half.
Down 38-7, the Cavaliers rode an ailing Kevin Huggins on a 65-yard drive to get to 38-14 with 1:46 left in the half. A Sims interception set up a 35-yard field goal for Huggins with no time remaining in the half, closing the deficit to 38-17.
After beginning the game without three starters, Huggins was deemed too dehydrated to continue in the second half, having rushed for 129 first-half yards.
Nolan Brandon took over where Huggins left off. He rushed 16 times for 88 yards in the second half, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge on fourth-and-goal with 11:10 left in the game that got the Cavaliers to within two. An Owen-to-Michael Downing two-point conversion tied the game.
“Kevin (Huggins) had sacrificed for us, we knew we had to sacrifice for him,” Brandon said. “We’re disappointed we lost, but we’re all proud of the way we played.”
Austin Richards completed just three passes for the Jaguars but each went for a touchdown. Running back Seth Evans was tough to corral and finished with 190 yards on 18 carries.
“A very experienced team beat an inexperienced team tonight,” said Bacheller, whose team is in its second year as a varsity program.