The Jay County football team’s final flurry of blows Friday night came like a well-executed boxing combination: in powerful, rapid succession.
The game remained close until Patriot fullback J.D. Magnas broke a 57-yard touchdown run on a trap play, the Patriots recovered a surprise on-side kick, and Zack Metcalf broke outside for a 43-yard score, all in a one-minute span, to leave Winchester out cold on the canvas.
Jay County spoiled the Falcons’ homecoming by taking a 37-20 victory at Falcon Field. The Patriots (3-4) used their simple, Wing-T offense to pound away and then break big plays, but it was the surprise onside kick that helped key the final push to blow open a five-point game
“It was an 11-point differential, and it was a dilemma,” Jay County coach Steve Boozier said of the kick when his team led 31-20, “I didn’t want to do it to them, but at the same time, if they get a quick score, then that puts them within a score of us, and an onside kick puts them back in.”
Boozier even said he apologized to Winchester coach Mike Jones after the game, and, after the recovery, had actually told his backs to go down if they broke into the open field, as Metcalf did on his scoring run.
The Falcons (3-4) managed to hang in the game by matching scores with Jay County, a larger school. Devin Grilliot’s 2-yard scoring run on fourth-and-goal with 6:43 remaining in the fourth quarter, cut the Winchester deficit to five, but it could come no closer.
The teams traded touchdowns in the early going, but Mangas put his team ahead when he took trap plays up the middle for scoring jaunts of 33 and 58 yards. The Falcons had an answer in quarterback Drew Croyle, who ran or threw for all 62 yards in a nine-play drive, including a 20-yard pass to Ben Brumfield to convert a fourth-and-10 and a 5-yard swing pass to Gatlin Kramer for a touchdown.
Croyle finished with 192 combined rushing and passing yards and two scores through the air, but the Patriots keyed on Grilliot, holding him to 3.3 yards per carry.
All night, the Falcons had no answer for Mangas running the inside trap. He broke off four touchdown runs and ran for 216 yards on 18 carries, all trap plays.
“A lot of it is my line,” said Mangas, whose team ended a two-game losing streak. “I was just getting into the open, and as soon as I got there, I was kicking on the boosters.”
Jones said he had linemen playing over the Patriots’ guards and centers to counter the play, but Boozier adapted by running the trap wide. Cade Price added 135 rushing yards and a touchdown for Jay County.
Jones zeroed in on a key moment early in the third when his team had the ball and a chance to take the lead, but Croyle threw an interception, and the Jay County running game that pumped out 415 yards on the ground got back to work.
It wasn’t that the Patriots did anything Winchester’s staff didn’t expect, but that did little to help the hosts stop them.
“They didn’t do anything that surprised us, zero,” Jones said. “Coach Boozier does a really good job with what he does, but he’s trap, he’s trap, he’s power-lead. He comes back, he traps you.
“To his credit, he’s really patient and he continues to do those things.”