Taking Back Jaguar Pride

Lanie Colquitt

The Jaguars defeated the Marcus Marauders 30-27 at the twelfth annual Mound Showdown last Friday.

After nine years, the rivalry game finally returned to Neal E. Wilson Stadium. The last time the Mound Showdown was played at home, the game ended with the exact same score.

The game not only meant moving closer to the playoffs and winning a trophy, but regaining the team’s confidence.

“This was a big rivalry game and easily the most important game of the season,” senior linebacker Branson Roberts said. “We really wanted to go and win to take back the trophy and our pride.”

Marcus had the first possession of the game, but the drive did not last long. The Marauders were penalized five yards. Flower Mound’s sophomore defensive back Chandler Claterbaugh forced a fumble on the Marcus 19-yard line. Senior quarterback Connor Wanhanen ran into the end zone three plays later, quickly making the score 7-0.

“I was really excited the way the game started,” Head Coach Dane Johnson said. “Marcus gave us a gift early with the fumble. We needed to capitalize on it, and we did. After that I was just hoping we could keep the momentum as long as we could.”

The Jaguar defense came back strong again causing a three and out. With a 46-yard pass to senior wide receiver LaJohn Williams, the Jaguars moved the ball down to the Marcus 32-yard line. Wanhanen scored his second rushing touchdown of the night when he ran 10-yards into the end zone.

Although Marcus held Flower Mound from scoring for the rest of the first quarter, the Jaguars did the same and blocked a field goal.

Both teams had unsuccessful possessions for most of the second quarter, but Marcus ran an all-running drive that ended with a touchdown by their sophomore running back Nate Hopkins. The Marauders also blocked a field goal by senior kicker Andrew Hitscherich.

Only up by seven, the Jaguars looked to widen their lead starting the second half. Wanhanen moved the ball down the field with a 36-yard pass to junior wide receiver Clayton Johnson. Senior wide receiver Michael Smith completed a pass from Wanhanen for a touchdown.

Marcus swiftly returned with an 8-yard rushing touchdown by their senior running back Mark Demery, making the score 21-14.

After a Flower Mound three and out, the pass by Marcus senior Taylor Gibbs was intercepted by junior wide receiver Jesse Mills, but the following drive by the Jaguars was another three and out. The game became tied when Demery scored his second touchdown of the night.

The Marauders ran the ball to Flower Mound’s 10-yard line after an unsuccessful Jaguar possession. Instead of kicking a field goal that would win them the game, Marcus tried to get a first down on fourth down and one. Flower Mound held them back, and Marcus was forced to punt. The end of regulation ended with the game still tied at 21.

Both teams scored a touchdown each during the first overtime, but because Marcus failed a two-point conversion and Hitscherich’s extra point kick was blocked, the score remained 27-27.

Flower Mound experienced highs and lows during the second overtime when senior kicker Cameron Gamble missed a field goal and when senior linebacker Branson Roberts ran a fumbled ball back to the Marcus 8-yard line but was tackled.

During the third overtime, Marauder’s junior kicker Jon Coppens missed a field goal. Flower Mound got the ball down to the 5-yard line and set up for field goal. Hitscherich’s kick sailed through the goal posts. The Jaguars had won the Mound Showdown for the first time in three years. This was also the first Mound Showdown the senior players had won.

“A lot of what I was feeling was relief definitely after the last two years, knowing what it feels like to go out of this game without the trophy,” Wanhanen said. “It was the complete opposite of the spectrum. It was an incredible feeling that I’ll never forget.”

The Jaguars are now 2-7 for the season, only needing to beat the Denton Ryan Raiders to move on to the playoffs.

“I think we are in the perfect spot this week,” Johnson said. “We have control over our own destiny. If we beat Denton Ryan, we are in the playoffs. I can’t think of a better last game to have.”

Players said they believe they’ll have the edge in this next game against Denton Ryan.

“We definitely have a good chance to win,” senior linebacker Tim Millard said. “They’re not any better than Marcus.”

Tonight Flower Mound will travel to Denton Ryan for the last game of the season, battling for the final playoff spot.