Despite not winning any games yet in the shortened 2021 spring season, both Stonewall Jackson and Madison County had shown signs of improvement in recent weeks.
On Friday night, the Bull Run District foes did battle on the Mountaineers’ home field, in a game where one of the two teams was going to finally take their place in the winners’ circle for the first time this year.
Unfortunately for home-standing Madison, it was the visitors from Quicksburg who celebrated when it was over. The Generals, behind a powerful rushing attack, raced out to a big lead and cruised to a 52-13 road victory.
Stonewall Jackson (1-4) scored a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage, and only saw its advantage grow as the night went on. Jackson held a 26-0 lead at intermission, and nearly matched its first half total in the first seven minutes-plus of the second half.
The Generals racked up all eight of their touchdowns before the Mountaineers threatened to find the endzone for the first time.
Madison County spent most of the evening in its own territory on offense, but the Mountaineers closed the game with a pair of touchdowns.
Following a 40-yard quarterback keeper by Wade Fox, junior Jordan Morris cashed in from 10 yards to put MCHS on the board. Several minutes later, on the final play of the game, Fox hit Taylor Fincham on a fade in the endzone, and the junior used his six-foot-six frame to outmuscle the defender for a six-yard TD.
Despite the lopsided advantage for the Generals’, Madison tried desperately to score before time expired. Staring down a running clock and a fired up unit of reserves on defense, the Mountaineers attempted several plays in the endzone, before finally succeeding in the final seconds.
The evening belonged to Stonewall Jackson, but Madison head coach Larry Helmick was proud of the way his team fought until the end.
“I feel like we had to end on a positive note, so that’s why we called so hard to score right there.” Helmick said. “We’re a very young team, so any positive right now is a good thing when you’re as young as we are.”
Turnovers were a major bugaboo for Madison County. The Mountaineers gave up the football three times, all of which resulting in Stonewall Jackson points.
The Generals set the tone for the game on the first offensive play from scrimmage.
Tailback Rion Dennison took a handoff up the middle and raced 55 yards to the Madison two-yardline, and finished the drive off himself on the following play.
The powerful senior later added rushing touchdowns from 34 and two yards out later in the game.
Dennison was the workhorse, but he had plenty of help in the form of fellow senior Austin Ritchie, and quarterback Jesse Lemon.
Ritchie was the lightning to Dennison’s thunder, and added a pair of untouched touchdowns from seven and 10 yards out respectively.
Lemon had several big runs that set the table for his teammates to score, but did not find the endzone himself until he made a heads up play on the other side of the ball.
On Madison’s first offensive play following a Dennison rushing touchdown, Lemon intercepted a Fox pass and raced 23 yards for a TD.
The pick-six marked Stonewall Jackson’s third touchdown in the first 7:15 of the second half.
“For us, all week, it was string together all four quarters, which is what we did. It was a huge step for all of our guys,” Stonewall Jackson head coach Kyle Kokkonen said. “We have a bunch of weapons, it’s just getting the chance to use them and keeping them in all game is what we need.”
Madison took the early punch on Dennison’s first touchdown, but then its defense showed signs of life on their second series of the game. After limiting the Generals to some short gains on the ground, junior Andrew Hall broke free for a big sack on fourth down.
Fox followed up the turnover on downs with runs of 11 and eight yards before the Mountaineers coughed up the ball and gave it right back to the Generals.
“I told the team in practice that [Madison] was winless just like we are, so we couldn’t take anything for granted for this team — they were going to come out hyped up, so we had to come out more hype,” Dennison said. “I think that our team really rallied around each other and took that intensity from the first drive of the game onward.”
Stonewall Jackson will battle rival Strasburg next Thursday night, while the Mountaineers will conclude the spring season at Clarke County next Friday.