For the first time since before any of the players on its roster were born, the Jordan football team is an outright conference champion.
The Falcons’ scrappy 24-3 win over Green Hope on its senior night, combined with Panther Creek’s 14-7 loss to Riverside, gave Jordan an outright Triangle 8 conference championship — something it hadn’t done since 1973.
Fittingly, all 24 of those points Friday night came from seniors: running back Andrew Hayes, defensive backs Marcus Greene Jr. and Christopher Holliday and kicker Randy Mendoza. That class, which went 1-10 in its first season, has now won back-to-back Triangle 8 titles.
“This senior group is awesome,” Jordan coach Anthony Barbour said. “They brought football back to Jordan again.”
After a quick Green Hope three-and-out, Jordan went on a methodical drive that ended with a short Hayes’ touchdown in the first quarter. On Green Hope’s next possession, Jordan linebacker Isaiah Hargett recovered a fumble and gave his team great field position for another quick score — but Jordan couldn’t convert.
There wasn’t much action in the second quarter, as the Triangle 8 rivals swapped lengthy, run-heavy drives. Quarterback Joaquin Davis led Jordan down to the 3-yard line, where the coaching staff opted for a short — and safer — field goal by Mendoza, which gave the Falcons a 10-0 lead.
Green Hope quarterback Evan Ashworth just missed a few deep throws early in the first half. When he tested Jordan’s secondary late in the second quarter, however, cornerback Christopher Holliday tracked the pass, picked it off and set Jordan up for a last-second score — which they missed out on.
The second half was more of the same. Green Hope’s best shot came midway through the third quarter, when Ashworth led the team into scoring positions with a few long completions. When Green Hope switched to a power-run game, however, Jordan stuffed running back Joshua Hullum and forced a short field goal by Owen Zalc.
Green Hope promptly picked off Davis on Jordan’s next possession, setting up a potentially game-breaking touchdown. But again, Jordan’s defense locked down, stuffed the run and forced a longer field-goal attempt, which Zalc missed.
“Our kids played their tails off on defense,” Barbour said.
Down a touchdown late in the fourth, Green Hope almost executed a miracle play — an intentional hook-and-ladder lateral. The first receiver caught a curl and pitched it out well behind him and to his left, but the second receiver bobbled the ball.
Jordan’s Marcus Greene Jr., a senior defensive back, then made the heads up play of the night by scoping up the live ball and returning it for a touchdown.
“Right place, right time,” Greene said with a smile.
Greene and Holliday would both pick off Ashworth in the following minutes — Holliday, who’s now up to seven interceptions on the season, returned his for a game-icing touchdown.
After the 24-3 win, Jordan gathered for a joyful huddle in the east end zone. There was dancing and laughing, cries of, “We are the champs!” and “I do this for my mama,” for a team that went 1-10 in 2016 — and is now entering the playoffs for the third year in a row with momentum aplenty.
“Special group,” Greene said. “We’re going to do special things. Season’s not over. Job’s not over. Mission’s not over. We’re going to keep going.”
Records: Jordan 9-2, 5-1 Triangle 8, Green Hope 7-3, 4-2 Triangle 8
Three who mattered
Andrew Hayes, Jordan: He’s been a workhorse for Jordan all season — leading the team in rushing, returning punts and serving as the team’s punter, too. That continued against Green Hope, as Hayes took carry after carry, bounced off defenders and scored the game’s only offensive touchdown.
Marcus Greene Jr., Jordan: The opportunistic senior defensive back had two massive takeaways for Jordan — both came within minutes of each other in the fourth quarter, too.
Joshua Hullum, Green Hope: On a night where the Falcons’ offense struggled, Hullum kept his team alive with consistently tough running.
Jason Furrie, a Green Hope assistant coach who’d been with the team three seasons, died Friday morning after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Ahead of the game at Claude Currie Stadium, a moment of silence was held in his honor.
Hayes broke 1,000 rushing yards Friday night and became just the fifth player in Jordan history to reach that mark in a single season.
Jordan has now won or shared five conference titles in its 56-year history: 1973, 2000, 2006, 2018 and 2019.
JHS — Andrew Hayes rush (Randy Mendoza kick)
JHS — Mendoza field goal
GH — Owen Zalc field goal
JHS — Marcus Greene Jr. fumble return (Mendoza kick)
JHS — Christopher Holliday interception return (Mendoza kick)