Jay County fullback JD Mangas admits the mood wasn’t great in the Patriots’ locker room during halftime Friday night. Wallaceburg (Ontario, Canada,) quarterback Brayden Fischer had just scored on a 19-yard touchdown run, giving his team the first points of the game in the final minute of the first half. Jay County faced a seven-point deficit at halftime at home.
Jay County coach Tim Millspaugh made a point to emphasize that his team was only down by one score. He didn’t want the mood to get too gloomy, wanting his team to come out strong in the second half. Eventually, Mangas said, the players began thinking the same way.
Jay County came back to win the game 12-7.
“A couple of us were hanging our heads, and a lot of us were very angry at the way we were playing,” Mangas said. “At the end of that locker room, the meeting and whatnot, we were all just fired up, ready to get back out here and get back at what we were doing and get more aggressive, more intense and have a better attitude and effort.”
Mangas was the Patriots’ leading rusher for the game, and he scored his team’s first touchdown on a 9-yard run late in the third quarter. The 2-point conversion failed, though, so Jay County still faced a one-point deficit.
Toby McCallister later set up the Patriots’ go-ahead touchdown. He intercepted a Fischer pass and returned it to the Wallaceburg (0-1) 9-yard line. Sean Winget ran the ball in on the next play to give Jay County (2-1) a 12-7 lead with 5:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Wallaceburg got two more offensive chances in the final half of the fourth quarter, but neither generated points. The first drive ended near midfield and required a punt, the final drive ended on a turnover on downs and gave Jay County the ball with 9 seconds remaining.
“Those are the games that we prepare for all offseason, the 27 workouts that we had,” Jay County coach Tim Millspaugh said. “We’re out here at 7 o’clock in the morning on Fridays in the summer, putting kids through circuit training, pushing them. And we kept telling them, ‘This is going to make a difference, we are going to break people.’ It shows a lot of grit and toughness, and that’s what this game is all about.”
Both teams used run-oriented attacks and attempted to run long, methodical drives. Neither team completed a pass in the first half, each attempting two. Jay County attempted just two passes for the game, while Wallaceburg opened up its offense in the second half. The Tartans finished the game 4-for-11 with three interceptions.
“It was very intense, I’ve never had that feeling in the years I’ve played football,” Mangas said. “It feels amazing to come out with a win and whatnot. If I could go back, I’d do it all over again just to get that feeling.”
The Patriots finished with 253 rushing yards, with Mangas running for 141 yards on 20 carries. Winget gained 41 yards on eight carries, and Kaleb Toland finished the game with nine carries for 54 yards.
Wallaceburg was led by Simon Yazbeck, who ran the ball 14 times for 80 yards. Fischer had 12 carries for 60 yards.