Led by three touchdowns from senior tight end Kemari Averett and two interceptions by senior defensive back Dimarcus Clay, the Grady Knights football team beat the Maynard Jackson Jaguars 57-30 and defended their No. 6 Class 5A ranking by improving 7-1 on a chilly homecoming night.
Next week, the Knights face the 4-4 Riverwood Raiders (3-2 in Region 6-5A). Riverwood is currently ranked No. 36 in in Class 5-A by MaxPreps.
Grady started with a three and out series, but were given the first down when the Jaguars defensive line jumped offsides as the Knights lined up to punt. This proved to be the break that senior quarterback Caylin Newton and the offense needed as they drove the field on a 9-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 23-yard touchdown pass from Newton to Averett. Newton again connected with Averett on the 2-point conversion to put Grady up 8-0 with 8:35 left in the first quarter.
The Jaguars were not as fortunate in their ensuing series, coughing the ball up at their own 26 yard line, allowing Grady to regain possession. With the excellent field position, the Knights scored after only two plays on another touchdown pass from Newton, this time to senior wide receiver Jacquez Sloan. Grady again went for 2, and again converted, this time on a Newton pass to senior receiver Aaron Hudson, putting Grady up 16-0 with 6:51 left in the first quarter.
Jackson would go on to punt for a touchback in their next series, giving Grady the ball at their own 20 yard line. The Knights, however, were not as fortunate this time as Newton threw an interception that was returned for a Jaguars touchdown with 4:19 left in the first quarter. The extra point was blocked, leaving Grady up 16-6.
After the critical mistake, the Knights offense scored again with 2:35 left in the first quarter as Newton found Louisville-commit Averett in the endzone for the second time. Newton once again found his 6-7 tight end another 2-point conversion, putting Grady up 24-6.
The Jaguars came up with a big return to the Grady 25 yard line, with kick Quinn Cowden saving a touchdown. Jackson ended the drive in the endzone, cutting the deficit to 24-14.
Grady answered as senior running back Tyreeze Alford scored on the first play of the second quarter, giving the Knights a 30-24 lead.
After both teams exchanged punts, Maynard Jackson drove the field to pull closer, 30-22.
With 12 seconds left in the first half, the Jaguars tied the game 30-30.
After Jackson drove to the Grady 25-yard line in its opening drive of the second half, the Knights sacked Jackson junior quarterback Roderick Hammond twice.
Grady got a quick score as Newton connected with Sloan, who juked defenders on a long catch and run to score, giving the Knights the lead at . 36-30 with 6:31 left in the 3rd quarter.
After getting near midfield, Hammond threw deep, but his pass was intercepted by Clay at the Grady 13-yard line with 3:25 in the third quarter. Grady, however, squandered the chance, giving the ball right back on a Newton interception at the Jackson 13-yard line.
The Jaguars appeared stopped on a 3-and-out, but Jackson coach Eric Williams drew up a fake punt to gain the first down. However, Clay intercepted Hammond again, this time on the Grady 30-yard line with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.
Grady again capitalized, scoring on another Alford rushing touchdown after three Jackson offsides penalties. Grady led 44-30.
The Jaguars turned the ball over on downs on Grady’s 26-yard line with 6:18 left in the game. Newton again led the offense to another Averett touchdown to lead 51-30.
Grady closed the scoring after recovering an onside kick at the Jackson 31-yard line. A few plays later, Newton escaped a sack and scrambled into the endzone with 2 minutes left, giving the Knights the 57-30 win.