Just six days after upsetting No. 2 nationally-ranked Booker T. Washington, it was an entirely different story for the Jackson Generals.
Cardinal Gibbons entered Friday night’s District 16-5A opener undefeated and off its own upset of Chaminade-Madonna and played like a team not impressed in the least with Jackson’s upset feat as Gibbons blew out to a 24-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 36-7 victory at Cardinal Gibbons High School
Even though it was a district opener and with American Heritage as a heavy favorite to win it, the win figures to give Gibbons an inside track to the runnerup playoff spot. Gibbons has not made the postseason since 2013.
“A little choppy at times but a great team win but we have a long season ahead of us,” said first year Gibbons head coach Matt Duboc. “We got off to a fast start and that was really key for us. But we got a little sloppy in the second half and still have a lot of things to improve on.”
With the big lead, the Gibbons offense got bogged down in the second half but the defense took over as the Chiefs recovered a pair of Generals fumbles and Maxwell Worship picked off a Terrance Craig pass late in the third quarter and returned it 25 yards for a score to make it 33-7 and all but end any Jackson comeback hopes.
“A huge win for us tonight,” said Gibbons quarterback Nikolas Scalzo who had a busy night, completing 20 of 31 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. “Nobody thought we could come out and do what we’re doing but we proved that we can play with anybody. Now we just have to stay focused and take each game week to week.”
The Chiefs (4-0, 1-0) made their statement on the game’s opening possession when they drove 63 yards in nine plays to grab a 7-0 lead when Scalzo found James Bostic III in the corner of the end zone for a 13 yard score.
If the Generals thought that was a bad start, it wasn’t over. A three-and-out on their first possession was made even worse when a high snap went over punter Nilson Henriquez’s head setting Gibbons up at the Jackson four.
But the defense held forcing a 25 yard Griffin Cerra field goal and 10-0 lead just 5:12 into the game.
After they failed to take advantage of good field position which included a 41 yard touchown pass that was called back by holding, the Chiefs then began to pull away when backup quarterback Austin Boyle came in for one play and made it pay off, hitting Bostic III for a 44 yard touchdown 4:05 before halftime.
“He’s big time, he’s my Megatron,” said Scalzo of his star receiver Bostic III who finished the night with three catches for 64 yards and the two scores.
The Chiefs weren’t done. Taking over at their own with 2:38 left, Scalzo dropped back and dropped a perfect deep ball into the arms of Carlos Sandy for a 40-yard gain to the 15. Two plays later, Scalzo found Joshua Rito all alone in the left flat for a 10-yard score 2:01 before halftime.
“Give all the credit to the kids and my coaches, they did all the work,” said Duboc. “We’ve got an off week next week and then we’ll get right back to work.”
Trailing 27-0, Jackson’s lone offensive highlight came midway through the third quarter when quarterback Terrance Craig found Devon Washington for a 49-yard touchdowns. But other than that, it was a rough night for Craig and backup quarterback Rodney Crooks as they were sacked a total of seven times for over 50 yards in losses.
“We got off to a terrible start and nothing went right from there,” said Jackson coach Lakatriona Brunson whose team fell to 1-2, 0-1. “We made way too many mistakes and you just can’t win games when you do that.”
Asked if it was a tough week to try and keep her kids focused following the huge Booker T. upset, Brunson didn’t hesitate.
“We had a 24 hour rule and that was it, the celebrating was over,” said Brunson. “We knew that this game tonight was much more important than that game because this was a district and we didn’t perform.”