WAKE FOREST — Marcus Jones did a lot for Wake Forest-Rolesville on Friday night. That was the easy observation in the Cougars' 40-21 win in the third round of the 4-AA playoffs.
Jones, the Cougars' most versatile player, led WF-R with four touchdown runs. Yet Jones did much more to leave his imprint on the game.
He made shoestring tackles on A.J. Clanton, Garner's best player. He deflected passes. He returned a punt 41 yards before scoring his second touchdown - a 5-yard run in which he stopped near the sideline before jogging into the end zone. He even recovered Garner's onside kick attempt late in the fourth quarter.
"I know I have to be ready to play at all times," said Jones, who ran for 149 yards on 12 carries. "I just put my heart into it, and so far it's working for me."
At halftime, with the Cougars in command of the game, one of the interesting questions heading into the second half was this: What else could Jones do?
Well, on his first carry in the third quarter, Jones made one cut and took the football 62 yards for a touchdown. At that point, the Cougars led 27-0.
"I think we were all nervous early because we knew Garner was good on film, but when Marcus got that first touchdown, that gives us room to work," fullback Seth Hall said of Jones' 50-yard touchdown run.
With WF-R, all the Cougars need is the lead. All season long, the Cougars have built comfortable leads by running the football on almost every down. With Jones' ability to create space with his quickness, Garner had trouble bringing him to the ground.
"They were very, very crisp on offense," Garner coach Nelson Smith said. "They executed the wing-T as good as anybody has ever executed it."
Garner (11-3) grabbed the momentum a bit in the third quarter with two touchdowns - one on a 66-yard screen pass to Clanton and another on a 36-yard fumble recovery by DeAnthony Harris.
But when the Cougars (13-1) needed a yard on fourth down in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach, Jones went under center for a 1-yard sneak to get the first down. Two plays later, Jones scored his fourth touchdown on a 4-yard run.
"Marcus has the ability, and he has the speed," WF-R coach Reggie Lucas said "I'm not surprised by what he does. He's played football all his life."
Even with Jones' big numbers on offense, Lucas was impressed by how Jones, a senior, continued to play well on defense - a group that allowed its first points after 10 quarters in these playoffs.
So, was there anything that Jones didn't do well against Garner?
"I wasn't on point on kickoff and punt returns," Jones said. "I felt I could have gotten one all the way, but I just didn't do a good job."
Jones will have a chance next week to improve against Panther Creek.
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