Kent brothers explode, Jackson football rolls past Rockwood Summit in Class 5 District 1 semifinal
In what appears to be a recurring trend, brothers Jordan and Quentin Kent continue to electrify the Jackson football team’s offense.
The two brothers accounted for 392 yards from scrimmage and seven of the Indians’ eight touchdowns, as top-seeded Jackson scored 36 points in the second half to pull away with a 56-35 win over fourth-seeded Rockwood Summit in a Class 5 District 1 semifinal on Friday at The Pit.
Jordan Kent led the way with five total TDs. The sophomore wide receiver racked up 174 yards on nine catches for Jackson, which will advance to take on third-seeded Vianney in the district championship.
“When I can throw it about 10 yards and they can run it about 30 yards, I’m all right with it,” Jackson quarterback Cooper Callis said. “... You can usually pick or choose with them because they’re both really athletic and can make good plays on the ball and run great routes.”
The Falcons took their only lead on the second play of the third quarter when senior QB Connor Ballance threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Danny Hopkins.
Sophomore Blake Cisneros, who was 5 of 5 on PATs, booted the extra point to give Summit a 21-20 advantage, but the Indians responded with a 10-play, 85-yard scoring drive and never relinquished the lead.
During the drive, senior running back Bryndan Reid, who finished with 28 carries for a game-high 175 yards, rushed for 54 yards on seven totes, including a 2-yard run on fourth-and-1.
“That was a big play,” Callis said. “Reid ran hard tonight.”
Callis concluded the drive with a 5-yard strike to Kent on third-and-goal, pushing the Indians back ahead, 26-21, with 8 minutes, 19 seconds left in the period.
“It was kind of critical for us to be able to get that fourth-down conversion and then score on that drive. We got some momentum,” Jackson coach Brent Eckley said. “I was nervous there that if we didn’t score on that drive that we would give the ball right back to them with a short field, so it was really critical.”
Then it came like a flurry.
Three plays into the following possession, Quentin Kent hauled in an interception that was bobbled out of a receiver’s hands. The senior found pay dirt shortly thereafter, running the ball in from 5 yards out on a sweep and capping a five-play scoring drive that extended Jackson’s lead to 32-21 at the 5:06 mark of the quarter.
Quentin Kent finished with a game-high 184 yards receiving on 10 catches, including a 70-yard TD reception from Callis on the Indians’ next possession. Callis converted the 2-point try with a pass to Terrico Johnson, as Jackson (8-2) led 40-21 with 3:05 left in the period.
“He didn’t want his season to end tonight,” Callis said about Quentin Kent. “He’s a big leader on this team, and when he makes plays like that, I think it gets everybody pumped up.”
After giving up a 77-yard touchdown on the second play of the half, the Indians’ defense held the Falcons to minus-1 yard on their next two drives. Summit (4-7) was finally able to answer methodically, putting together a 16-play drive that resulted in an 8-yard pass from Ballance to sophomore WR Tanner Jennings and trimmed the lead to 40-28 with 9:55 left in the game.
After Jordan Kent hauled in a screen pass from Callis and dashed 50 yards to the end zone to give his side a 20-point cushion, the Falcons still found a way — at least for the moment — to stay within striking distance.
On fourth-and-1, Ballance lobbed a 34-yard TD pass over the middle to senior wideout Jake Burlison, trimming Jackson’s lead to 48-35 with 7:42 remaining. Cisneros, who also started at linebacker, intercepted Callis’ pass on the next play from scrimmage, but the Indians’ defense forced a third-and-long play that resulted in a pick by junior defensive back Cole Welker.
Eckley said he was pleased with an increased pass rush in the second half, allowing the defensive backs to reap the benefits. The Indians finished with four sacks on Ballance.
“Our kids just kind of cut loose a little bit, and the defensive coaches did a nice job of bringing different people from different spots,” Eckley said. “That really made a difference.”
Despite another Jackson fumble, the defense forced Summit to turn the ball over on downs after three straight incompletions, and Callis engineered one final scoring drive to seal the game for good. During the the 11-play, 68-yard drive, Callis converted on third-and-long two times — a 34-yard pass to Quentin Kent and a 23-yard pass to Jordan Kent — before connecting with Jordan Kent on a 9-yard TD reception in the back corner of the end zone. The 2-point conversion pass from Callis to Quentin Kent gave the Indians a three-possession lead with only 2:10 remaining.
“I thought we did a better job in the second half of running the ball with a little bit of balance. We just had some kids make some big plays, too,” Eckley said. “I thought Cooper threw the ball very accurately, and then the Kent boys really caught the ball well in the second half.”
The junior Callis completed 26 of 38 passes (68 percent) for 463 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. Jordan Kent was the recipient of Callis’ first TD, a 13-yard catch that gave Jackson a 7-0 lead with 4:42 left in the first quarter.
The Indians took a 14-0 lead when Reid buried his way into the end zone from 13 yards out at the 1:18 mark of the period. After Jackson’s next offensive series stalled out at the Summit 35-yard line, senior running back Anthony Wilson burst through the middle for a 65-yard TD run that cut the Indians’ lead to 14-7 with 8:43 left before halftime.
Jackson’s offense turned it over on downs again, this time inside goal territory, but senior DB Payne Guilliams came down with an interception on the next play. Jordan Kent took care of the rest, finding pay dirt on a 15-yard sweep that pushed the Indians’ advantage to 21-7 with 4:47 remaining before the break.
The Indians had success moving the ball in the first half but encountered trouble circumnavigating six penalties, including four holding calls. Jackson finished with 701 yards of total offense and was flagged only twice in the second half.
“We had some penalties that really hurt us in the first half. I think that was the biggest deal,” Eckley said. “We were able to get a hold of those in the second half and get ahead of it.”
Falcons junior Jimmy Walker, a shifty running back at 5-foot-4, was limited to 61 yards on 20 carries, including a 1-yard TD run inside the final minute of the first half, pulling his team within six points heading into the break. The touchdown was set up by a blocked punt.
“At halftime, we were definitely frustrated because we knew we had a lot of yardage, but we just couldn’t finish. That had a lot to do with focus,” Callis said. “I think we had a lot of leadership in there at halftime, and I think we were all really focused coming out of there.”
Jackson’s Brendan Gross contributed two catches for 69 yards, while senior RB Ethan Laster return from a broken right finger and played with a cast on his arm. Laster finished with four rushes for 47 yards.
Ballance threw for 256 yards on 13-of-32 passing (41 percent), throwing three touchdowns and four interceptions. His top receiver was Hopkins, who finished with five grabs for 155 yards.
Summit generated 377 yards of total offense, including 119 on the ground. The Falcons averaged 3.3 yards per carry on their 36 rushes.
“They had some big pass plays, but I was really proud of our box players, as far as defending the run,” Eckley said. “I thought we packed it in pretty tight. I was pleased with that.”
The Indians will be at home again in the district championship, which pits them against the same school that ended their season a year ago. The host Golden Griffins trounced Jackson 49-14 in a district quarterfinal last season before falling to Summit in the semifinals.
Vianney (5-5), which crushed second-seeded Poplar Bluff 56-21 in Friday’s other semifinal, has now won four of its last five games, the only loss a 45-21 decision against Class 6 powerhouse Christian Brothers College.
Eckley knows his players need to perform better but believes they understand the opportunity that’s awaiting them.
“If we want to be able to win next Friday night, we’ll have to play better than we played tonight,” Eckley said. “We’ll have to do a little better job taking care of the football. We’ll have to be a little more physical on defense matching some stuff up, and then offensively, we can’t have those drives where we get down in the red zone and don’t get points.”
J — Jordan Kent 13 pass from Cooper Callis (Matthew Jaco kick), 4:42
J — Bryndan Reid 13 run (Jaco kick), 1:18
RS — Anthony Wilson 65 run (Blake Cisneros kick), 8:43
J — J. Kent 15 run (kick failed), 4:47
RS — Jimmy Walker 1 run (Cisneros kick), 0:40.8
RS — Danny Hopkins 77 pass from Connor Ballance (Cisneros kick), 11:42
J — J. Kent 5 pass from Callis (conversion pass failed), 8:19
J — Quentin Kent 5 run (kick failed)
J — Q. Kent 70 pass from Callis (Terrico Johnson conversion pass from Callis), 3:05
RS — Tanner Jennings 8 pass from Ballance (Cisneros kick), 9:55
J — J. Kent 50 pass from Callis (Johnson conversion pass from Callis), 9:26
RS — Jake Burlison 34 pass from Ballance (Cisneros kick), 7:42
J — J. Kent 9 pass from Callis (Q. Kent conversion pass from Callis), 2:10
RUSHING — Rockwood Summit, Anthony Wilson 8-73, Jimmy Walker 20-61, Alexander Cuttler 4-8, Connor Ballance 4-(-23); Jackson, Bryndan Reid 28-175, Ethan Laster 4-47, Quentin Kent 2-18, Jordan Kent 3-16, Brendan Gross 1-13, Team 2-(-13), Cooper Callis 5-(-18).
PASSING — Rockwood Summit, Ballance 13-32-258-4; Jackson, Callis 26-38-463-1.
RECEIVING — Rockwood Summit, Danny Hopkins 5-155, Jake Burlison 2-44, Tanner Jennings 3-32, Cam Been 1-21, Walker 2-6; Jackson, Q. Kent 10-184, J. Kent 9-174, Gross 2-69, Terrico Johnson 2-19, Reid 3-17.