MIAMI – High school football is back and better than ever as the Columbus Explorers faced off against the Miami Jackson Generals in a back and forth game which saw Columbus edged out for a 21-13 Week 1 victory.
THE INFO: The Explorers started off the game with a bang as Tyler Harrell returned the opening kickoff for a 93-yard touchdown.
Then, it was the Generals turn as their first play of the drive was nearly picked off by Columbus DB Trajan Bandy.
And for most of the first quarter, that was how the Explorers defense played – smothering the Generals in the backfield and not allowing anything to happen on the ground or through the air.
Columbus QB Marcelo Rodriguez did not get things started off on the right note either with a few big plays he made being called back due to penalties on the Explorers.
Early in the second quarter, RB Darren Davis Jr. used his athleticism and ability to put the Explorers in scoring position.
Unfortunately, during Davis’ play, Explorer FB Hunter Moreno went down with an injury and did not return, which started a momentum shift in favor of the Generals.
On the very next play, the Explorers went for a field goal that came up short, giving the Generals the ball back with RB Keiron Broussard ready to make something happen.
And they did.
Broussard put together a couple nice runs including one for more than 20 yards to put the Generals in excellent field position.
Generals wide receiver Terrence Craig Jr. went deep for the first time on the Explorers which he capped the drive off as he caught the ball for a touchdown to knot the game up at 7-7 with just under four minutes left before half.
Jackson then made another bold move as they did an onside kick and recovered it as Columbus had a fingertip on the ball but tipped it up and into one of the hands of a Jackson defender.
With two minutes left in the second quarter, Jackson put a nice drive together to put them in the red zone quickly again.
Terrence Craig Jr. caught a couple short passes which moved the Generals up to the Columbus two-yard line with 30 seconds left on the clock.
On the next play, Broussard went under center in what seemed to be a designed play out of the wildcat formation, but with an early snap forced Broussard to start running as a swarm of Columbus defenders came closing in on him, pushing him and the Generals back to the 40-yard line of the Explorers and the General missing the chance to take the lead heading into the half.
In the second half Explorer quarterback Marcelo Rodriguez came out looking at a little more at ease as he drove the Explorers down the field capped off with a 69-yard touchdown pass to Orlando Hidalgo Jr. to take a 14-7 lead.
However, the Generals were ready to answer right back.
Gabriel Dunn took the preceding kickoff and returned it for an 80-yard touchdown, but the PAT was blocked to preserve a 1-point lead for Columbus.
Early in the fourth quarter, Marcelo Rodriguez found tight end Carmine Dascoli III on a play that looked like nothing was really going to happen. However, Dascoli trucked some of the Generals defenders and even had three clinging on three with him on his way to the end zone in what would seal the win for the Explorers.
However, in near the end, Jackson had a few opportunities at the end of the game but the Columbus defense stifled things to end the game.
KEY PLAY OF THE GAME: Early in the fourth quarter, Rodriguez found tight end Carmine Dascoli III on a play that looked like nothing was really going to happen. However, Dascoli trucked some of the Generals defenders and even had three clinging on three with him on his way to the end zone in what would seal the win for the Explorers.
STAR OF THE GAME: Columbus Explorer’s DT Mike Rodriguez consistently dominated the game. It seemed like Rodriguez was in the backfield every single play which led him to a total of four sacks.
DID YOU KNOW: The head coach of the Jackson Generals is Lakatriona Brunson but also known as Bernice from the Tru TV Series “South Beach Tow.” Brunson made history by becoming the first female head coach in Florida history and this game marked the first regular season game coached by a female head coach.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Explorers look to ride the momentum into the next game where they will face Miami Northwestern at Tropical Park in Miami on Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Jackson will start their five-game road trip on Friday, Sept. 2 against Bolles with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET.