OAK HILL - The Jackson County Patriots improved to 6-0 on the season following a 30-16 victory over Marion County (2-1) at Oak Hill's Davis Stadium Saturday night.
On the upside of things, it has been officially announced that the Patriots are the number one team in the Ohio Football League with the win - a first in the history of the organization - which is in its fourth year of existence.
On the downside, Jackson County lineman Tyler Moore will more than likely forego the remainder of the season after he suffered an apparent broken leg in the first half.
Moore was injured early in the second quarter with 12:38 left, resulting in a 30-minute delay after EMS was dispatched to transport him to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Jackson County's defense limited Marion County to 183 total yards and limited the Crusaders to just a pair of touchdowns and a field goal, while the Patriots offense produced 265 yards.
Patriots quarterback Tanner Taylor threw for 101 yards and one touchdown on 6 of 14 passing with three interceptions.
Jeremy Smith was the beneficiary of three of Taylor's passes for 76 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Jackson County finished with 164-yards rushing, as Danzell Matlock ran for 138-yards on 29 attempts to lead the Patriots ground attack.
The Patriots put the first points on the scoreboard on a 31-yard field goal by Justin Mullins to cap a drive that consumed almost 10-minutes off the clock. The 14-play drive spanned 70 yards, including a 22-yard run by Matlock on a third-and-four play early in the drive. Matlock totaled 46 rushing yards on the drive.
Then Tyree Purham sprinted for a 99-yard touchdown on the ensuing kickoff, as it took the Crusaders just 17 seconds to grab the lead. The PAT, however, was blocked as Marion County went ahead 6-3.
The Patriots defense caused the game to turn back in their favor in the second quarter when Eric Landrum recovered a fumble by Marion County's Tyrus Owens inside the Crusaders' 5-yard line. Four plays later, the Patriots retook the lead when Landrum scored on a quarterback keeper on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line and Mullins' PAT gave Jackson County a 10-6 lead with 7:26 remaining in the half.
Marion County's Diego Fonseca ended the half with a 22-yard field goal to trail 10-9 at halftime.
Landrum scored his second touchdown of the game on a 35-yard run and Mullins' kick gave Jackson County a 17-9 cushion with 4:55 left in the third quarter. The former Jackson Ironmen standout rushed for 42 yards on just four attempts in the game.
The Patriots thwarted a scoring threat by the Crusaders after JaVonte Bing intercepted Blake Kennedy in the end zone but four-plays later, Jackson County gave possession back to Marion County after Taylor's pass was tipped and intercepted by the Crusaders.
The Patriots, however, held Marion County to three-and-out and forced the Crusaders to punt for the sixth time in the game, early in the fourth quarter.
Then on third-and-7, Taylor fired a strike on a quick slant to Jeremy Smith, who did the rest, weaving his way to the end zone for a 56-yard touchdown. The nine-play drive covered 84-yards, as the Patriots converted on three third-down plays. Mullins' kick failed and Jackson County led 23-9 with 9:02 left.
The Crusaders closed within a touchdown and extra-point (23-16) when Kennedy threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Troy Summers with 3:20 left. The scoring drive was set up after Taylor was intercepted for the third time in the game.
With a little more than a minute-and-a-half to play, Mullins tried to ice the game with an 18-yard field goal attempt, but the kick was blocked and it looked like Marion County still had a chance.
But a personal foul penalty for running into the center gave the Patriots new life and on the next play, Taylor's quarterback sneak from the two-yard line gave Jackson County a 30-16 lead with 1:32 left.
With 28-seconds left, Marion County wide receiver Ismael Burris suffered a head/neck injury after he was tackled and flipped rather awkwardly.
Burris was down for several minutes after the incomplete pass and again, EMS had to be dispatched to Davis Stadium.
After a lengthy delay - the second of the game - both teams agreed to let the time expire and end the game.
The Patriots will look to increase their unbeaten streak on Saturday when they travel to Lima to face the Warriors from the OFL's West White Division at 7 p.m.