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Without coach, Jonesboro defeats Mount Zion 33-6

Photo by Dennis Thomas
Mount Zion quarterback Montel Buchanan tries to elude Jonesboro defensive lineman Kenyarie McKelvin during the first quarter of Friday’s non-region game at Tara Stadium.

Photo by Dennis Thomas Mount Zion quarterback Montel Buchanan tries to elude Jonesboro defensive lineman Kenyarie McKelvin during the first quarter of Friday’s non-region game at Tara Stadium.

Despite the change a year can bring, the 2012 edition of the Jonesboro-Mount Zion rivalry was relatively like their previous meeting. Capitalizing off Mount Zion turnovers, Jonesboro soundly defeated the Bulldogs 33-6.

“It’s always good when you can start your season off with a win against your rival,” said Jonesboro fill-in coach Nathan Wardlaw.

The Cardinals got the good feelings started when Mario Atkinson hit Taurean Ferguson for a 20-yard touchdown on a third and 18. Carrel Taylor set Jonesboro up in the prime field position after he recovered a Mount Zion fumble. Some twenty seconds later Patrick Petty intercepted a Montel Buchanan pass and returned it 38 yards for a 13-0 Jonesboro lead with 3:50 left to play in the first quarter.

Cameron Sutton ran in from seven yards out some two minutes later and Petty capped off the first half scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run. Petty’s score was set up by a Ferguson block punt.

Even with a big halftime lead Jonesboro continued to put their foot on the gas, keeping their starters in until midway through the fourth quarter, while still throwing the ball. Wardlaw attributed that style of play to his team’s nature.

“No disrespect to them,” Wardlaw said. “We always want to score. We always want to push.”

Petty finished the night with 10 carries for 83 yards and the touchdown. The Cadinals held the Bulldogs to 20 yards of offense in the first half and sacked Buchanan seven times for the game.

Tim Floyd, Jonesboro’s head coach, was serving the first game of a two-game suspension for breaking a recruiting rule.

The Bulldogs and their first-year head coach Ervin Starr’s lone bright spot was it emerging second-half passing attack. Buchanan passed for 84 yards and a touchdown after halftime.

The fact that the game was a season opener was evident as both teams combined for 32 penalties.

The former Region 4-AAAA mates will now go their separate ways for another calendar year. Mount Zion, now in Class AAAAA, will have a week off before heading to Atlanta to face Washington. Meanwhile Jonesboro will hit the road this upcoming Friday to face Westover.