NJHS Edges Guntersville

In a hard-fought battle, reminiscent of last year's meeting in the state playoffs, the North Jackson Chiefs defeated the Guntersville Wildcats 14-13 in Guntersville Friday night to take sole possession of first place in Region 7 with two games to play.

Trailing 13-7 with time running out in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs got a four yard touchdown run from A.J. Matthews and a game-winning PAT kick from L'neal Whitehead with 3:08 to go in the game to move to 6-1 for the season, 5-0 in region play.

Guntersville had taken a 13-7 lead midway through the third quarter and was poised to take the win, but fumbled the snap on a punt attempt to turn the ball over on downs at their own 31 with 4:30 left to give the Chiefs their last shot at the win. From there, it took just four plays for North Jackson to punch in the winning score.

North Jackson had taken a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but Guntersville tied it with a little over a minute left in the half to send the teams to the locker room knotted at 7-7.

Guntersville took the lead in the third but missed the extra point, and that turned out to be the difference in the game.

Usually, the team that makes the least mistakes wins, but North Jackson turned the ball over four times in the game, twice when threatening to score, and still managed to overcome those turnovers when it counted. Both teams made huge mistakes, but in the end, it was the Chiefs that prevailed.

North Jackson's A.J. Matthews returned the opening kickoff to the Guntersville 49 yard line, but the Chiefs failed to get a first down and punted after picking up only four yards.

After exchanging punts with Guntersville, the Chiefs got a break late in the first quarter when Malcolm Bynum recovered a Wildcat fumble at the Guntersville 31 yard line. But, three plays later, North Jackson returned the favor by throwing an interception at the Wildcats' 25 yard line.

Although he only had 39 yards on nine carries, A.J. Matthews was a huge factor in the win as he scored the winning touchdown.

Will Richard was 18-of-23 for 153 yards and a touchdown. Jovani Taylor caught six of those passes for 80 yards, and he scored the other touchdown for the Chiefs.

On defense, Tana Patrick and Zack Hammontree were all over the field for North Jackson, Patrick registered 16 tackles, and Hammontree had 14 stops in the contest.

Gary Lansden had seven tackles and the game-saving interception, while Shingin Lee chipped in with six tackles in the game.

Along with his hard running on offense, A.J. Matthews was also a factor on defense as he contributed five tackles for the Chiefs.

Next week North Jackson will host the Plainview Bears which defeated Fairview.

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