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Early turnovers prove costly as Class 2A, DI Axtell Longhorns trample Class 2A, DII Meridian Yellowjacket, 70-7

MERIDIAN – For the Class 2A, Division II Meridian Yellowjackets, it proved to be a case of everything that could go wrong did. And in a non-district game against the Class 2A, DI Axtell Longhorns, it began going wrong shortly after the opening kickoff last Friday night at Jacket Stadium.

Capitalizing on four Meridian turnovers, Axtell built a 28-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back as the Longhorns stampeded to a dominating 70-7 victory over the Jackets.

“Axtell did a great job,” Meridian head coach Wade Morton said. “All the credit goes to them. They did what was needed and dominated us all night.”

As the Longhorns took advantage of two quick turnovers to open the game, the Jackets almost immediately found themselves in a hole. Despite the Jackets using an 11-play drive to the Axtell 38-yard line, Longhorn senior cornerback Garrett Kwast pulled down an interception and returned it to the Meridian 33-yard line. Two plays later, senior running back Jayme Wooley raced 24 yards for the game’s initial score.

On Meridian’s first play of its next possession, sophomore free safety Cohen Hackman forced a fumble, and sophomore Jacob Kroll recovered at the Jacket 33-yard line. Two plays later, junior running back Jordan Davis converts a counter into a 32-yard touchdown run. Junior running back Sam Michel ran in the two-point conversion to give Axtell an early 14-0 lead.

But the Meridian offense quickly responded as running back John Bernal turned the corner and tight-roped down the sideline for 47-yard scoring scamper to make it 14-7 with 5:05 left in the first quarter. Bernal finished with a team-high 110 yards rushing on only 12 carries.

“Offensively, we had some life after going down 14-0 early,” Morton said. “But we need to be consistent. Our players need to step up and make plays. We need to take more pride in what we do, and we will.”

After that, though, it was all Axtell as a couple more turnovers proved costly with the Longhorns quickly capitalizing, both on the ground and through the air, building an insurmountable 35-7 advantage before the end of the first quarter. Defensively, Jose Martinez led the Jackets with eight tackles, followed by Jordan Sheffer with four and JR Rodriguez with three.

This Friday, the Jackets play their final non-district game, hosting Waco Texas Wind on homecoming night in Meridian. Last week, Texas Wind lost to a common opponent, falling to Frost, 30-29, at home after knocking off Dallas HSAA Blue, 44-23, for their first win of the season.

“Texas Wind is going to be a challenge,” Morton said. “They have good size and speed, and that has been difficult for us to handle. The boys will be ready to go, and it should be an entertaining game.

“Bottom line is that we want to compete. And until you start hating to lose more than you like to win, things will continue to be difficult.”


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