Madison Central's Javarius Jordan (6) runs against Germantown on Nov. 1, at Germantown High School in Gluckstadt.
Madison Central's Javarius Jordan (6) runs against Germantown on Nov. 1, at Germantown High School in Gluckstadt.
Madison Central was a heavy favorite headed into the first-ever meeting against Germantown High last week, but Anthony Hart knew better than to let his 6th-ranked Jaguars underestimate their new cross-town rival.

That mentality paid off Thursday, as the Jags rallied from a second-half deficit to escape Gluckstadt with a 31-23 win.

“We talked about it all week,” Hart said. “I thought we were going to be in for a fight, and we were.”

Madison Central’s splendid quarterback Jimmy Holiday put the Jags on top early with the first of his four rushing touchdowns in the first quarter. After leading the Jags 44 yards, the junior capped the opening drive himself with a 34-yard scamper to the end zone.

After exchanging a couple of possessions, the Jags extended their lead to 10-0 on a 36-yard field goal from Luke Bridges.

It looked to all the world like Madison Central would keep pulling away, but the Mavericks had other ideas.

Germantown responded on the ensuing possession following a big kick return near midfield. Maverick quarterback Colton Gardner connected with Dequante Peoples for a 43-yard touchdown pass that cut the Jags’ lead to 10-7.

Madison Central came right back with its third score of the night - a 53-yard drive capped by Holiday’s second rushing touchdown from 29 yards out - that put the Jags ahead 16-7 after a missed extra point.

Madison Central’s Creek Robertson picked off Gardner on Germantown’s next possession, and it looked like Big Blue was going to score again before the half. But the Germantown defense stood tall and forced a turnover on downs at their own 38-yard line.

With less than a minute left in the half, Gardner found an open receiver and got the Mavericks back into field goal range. Dylan Wasson hit a 47-yarder and cut Madison Central’s halftime lead to 16-10.
“We knew they were going to play hard against us because it’s a rivalry game and it’s important to them,” Hart said. “They played us exactly like we thought they would.”

The Jaguar defense got a big stop on fourth down at their own 20-yard line on the opening possession of the second half, but Germantown defensive back Quavius Thompson picked off an errant pass from Holiday and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. Wasson’s extra point gave the Maverick the 17-16 lead with five minutes to go in the third quarter.

That’s when the Jags woke up.

First, Holiday took off on a quarterback draw, juked a couple of defenders and reversed field for a 49-yard touchdown run to regain the lead 23-17.

Then, after a quick 3-and-out by Germantown, it was Javarius Jordan who cashed in on a short field with a 5-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 30-17.

Holiday’s final rushing touchdown came with two minutes to go in the game from five yards out and made it 36-17 after another missed extra point attempt.

“I felt like a different team came off the sideline after that pick-six,” Hart said. “That kind of set off the alarm bells and we snapped out of it and finished the game like we were supposed to.”

Germantown’s final touchdown - a 26-yard pass from Gardner to Dequante Peoples - came with under a minute to go.

Holiday finished with 87 yards through the air and carried the ball 16 times for 174 yards. Jordan added 123 rushing yards on 17 carries. The Jags rushed for 370 total yards as a team.

Germantown ran for just 25 yards on 15 carries. Gardner completed 15 of 28 passes for 233 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

With the win, the Jaguars (8-2) moved to 4-2 in Region 2 play and into a tie for third place with Warren Central. The Jaguars own the tie-breaker thanks to a 28-7, head-to-head win over the Vikings back on Oct. 10.

They cannot improve their playoff seeding with a win in the regular season finale against Greenville, but a loss - combined with a Warren Central win over No. 4 South Panola - would mean a first-round date on the road at No. 7 Oxford (9-1).

And Hart is convinced the Jaguars will have their hands full this week with the Yellowjackets (3-7).

“They’ve got a receiver who is as good as anyone we’ve faced all season,” Hart said, referring to Greenville senior Rufino Griffin. “He’s the first thing we’ve got to contend with as far as their offense goes. Their quarterback throws the ball well too, and they’ve scored a lot of points this year.”

Germantown (4-6, 1-5 in 2-6A) will wrap up the regular season Friday in Jackson with a tilt against Murrah (1-9) at Hughes Field.