The562’s coverage of Jordan Athletics is sponsored by John Ross, Class of 2013.
Big plays proved to be the difference when Jordan hosted Compton in Moore League football action on Friday night.
It was a one-score game in the fourth quarter when a 71-yard touchdown run from Jordan Washington and a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown from Jacob Hernandez boosted Jordan to a 43-20 win.
The victory keeps the Panthers (5-2, 1-2) alive in the hunt for the last automatic postseason spot coming out of the Moore League. Compton (4-3, 2-1) is also in the running for that playoff bid, but Jordan has the easier road on paper with upcoming games against Wilson and Cabrillo.
Washington was the star of the night with three touchdowns and 272 yards rushing on 19 carries.
“We’ve got to take things seriously because nobody sleeps on us anymore,” Washington said. “They’re ready to beat us. So we have to bring that same energy so we can continue on our journey.”
Jordan’s win also means the Panthers retain the 91 Gridiron Trophy after winning the inaugural rivalry game prize last year. Jordan and Compton had split their previous four meetings before Friday.
“We’ve just got to practice harder and get everybody healthy and we’ll be good,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez started the game with a bang when he returned the opening kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown. The kick was pooched short, but Jordan had practiced all week that they would give the ball to Hernandez and they stuck with the plan that worked.
Compton and Jordan both had long drives in the first half that ended in red zone fumbles, but Compton turned its second possession into a 14-play 65-yard scoring drive that John John Bledsoe capped with a short touchdown run. Erick Barrios converted the 2-point conversion to give Compton an 8-7 lead.
Jordan responded quickly and Washington capped the drive with a short touchdown run of his own. Quarterback J.J. Nielsen hit Deontae Tucker for the 2-point conversion to make it 15-8 Panthers at halftime.
Compton cut the lead to 15-14 by scoring on its first drive of the second half. Quarterback Aava Lilomaiava ran that touchdown in from a few yards out, but he was removed from the game due to injury.
Jordan answered quickly as Washington turned a 4th & 4 near midfield into a 49-yard touchdown run. It was only his seventh touch of the night.
“I have to trust my teammates because coming into league everyone we’ve played has been focusing on me,” Washington said of being patient. “So I just wait my turn and do what I can to get points on the board. We do this as a family and I can’t get the ball every play. But if I did just know I’m going to make a play off of it.”
After the Jordan defense came up with a goal line stand on the ensuing Compton drive, Washington wowed the home crowd again on an incredible 71-yard touchdown run that saw him shake a handful of tacklers. He had 144 yards rushing and a pair of scores on his first six touches in the second half.
“The stuff we do is equal opportunity but it’s a good thing we have him to rely on,” Jordan coach Jon Nielsen said of Washington. “That’s just his determination. That’s why he’s different. Also our receivers block extremely well. If our receivers don’t block he doesn’t have those creases to run.”
Compton’s Jeremiah Hall scored a tough 17-yard touchdown on the second play of the ensuing drive, but the visitors didn’t get the 2-point conversion and the score was 29-20 until Hernandez turned his tipped interception near midfield into a game-clinching touchdown.
“I just knew my teammate was not going to catch it so I was just right behind him ready to catch it,” Hernandez said. “And then it was just a pick-six, because if you pick it you’ve got to six it.”
Jordan hosts Wilson and Cabrillo (the two teams at the bottom of the league standings) in the next two weeks before finishing the regular season at first-place Long Beach Poly.
“These next two games are just tune up games to get us ready for Poly and then playoffs,” coach Nielsen said. “We’re all about getting ready for the playoffs.”