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Jackson-Milton takes down Mineral Ridge

October 12, 2013
By BRAD VanFOSSAN - Tribune Chronicle correspondent ( , Underthelights

MINERAL RIDGE - After Week 7 of the 2013 high school season, the Jackson-Milton Blue Jays already have four more wins than last year as they spoiled Mineral Ridge's homecoming with a 28-21 victory to improve to 4-3 on the year.

"We came out with a chip on our shoulder," Jackson-Milton coach Mark Assion said. "Every week in the lower tier (ITCL) is a tough ballgame. We were very balanced, while we were able to pass the ball, we goes as Tyler Shaffer (running back) goes.

Coming into the game, Jackson-Milton quarterback Jeremy Fitzpatrick and wide receiver Thomas Gatewood ranked third and fourth in the tri-county area in passing and receiving yards respectively. This combination was electric on Friday, hooking up for three scores on passes of 7, 9, and 33 yards, giving Fitzpatrick 15 touchdowns on the year and Gatewood 11.

The last of those aerial assaults put the game almost out of reach, giving Jackson-Milton a 28-7 lead at the half. Prior to that, Mineral Ridge had cut the lead to 14-7 on a Michael Eaton 4-yard touchdown run.

The Blue Jays didn't just rely on passing the ball as Shaffer rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown.

In the second half, Mineral Ridge did make some adjustments, switching to a 3-4 defense, which slowed down the Blue Jays passing attack and took away their running angles, resulting in a scoreless second half for Jackson-Milton.

"We tackled better in the second half and stayed in our lanes," Mineral Ridge coach Doug Velasquez said. "We need to learn to come out with passion. Every game we haven't done that. Once we learn how to, we'll be a good football team."

Mineral Ridge did put up a fight in the second half, scoring 14 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarters. The score in the third quarter was an 84-yard touchdown pass from Jonathan Baker to Ethan Dukes. The second was a 2-yard scamper by Josh Goss.

The Rams made it interesting with less than 2 minutes left in the fourth, driving down to the Jackson-Milton 19-yard line, but Baker's pass fell out of the reach of Dukes in the end zone. A touchdown and extra point would have tied the game at 28.

Baker threw for 161 yards and a touchdown for the Rams, and Jeremy Fitzpatrick passed for 287 yards and three touchdowns for the Blue Jays. Gatewood led Jackson-Milton in receiving with 11 catches for 186 yards and three scores.

Jackson-Milton (4-3, 2-2) will travel to Leetonia next week while Mineral Ridge (4-3, 1-3) will be at Wellsville.