By Steve Williams
Fulton’s football team ran hot and cold in its season opener.
The Falcons sizzled, fizzled and sizzled again in their 35-0 win over rival Austin-East Friday night at Sam Anderson Field.
The Jackson brothers – Marcellus and Raysean – led the way for the visiting Falcons. Marcellus ran for one touchdown and caught a pass from Raysean for another. The two scores came in the first six minutes.
Daveon Shenault got into the scoring act with a couple of touchdown runs in the second half and De’Rondre Peebles also reached the end zone, catching a TD pass from Raysean Jackson, as Fulton pulled away.
“We started really fast tonight offensively and I think our defense set the tone early,” said Fulton Coach Rob Black.
“Then we got a little bit inconsistent from that point on. But the fast start was huge for us.”
Austin-East Coach Antonio Mays said: “I’m proud of my team. I’m disappointed in myself. This loss ain’t on our kids. It’s on me.”
The Falcons will face another rival at Bob Black Field this Friday when they host Central in the annual Battle of Broadway. Austin-East will travel to Clinton in its first game against the Dragons in nearly 40 years.
A-E couldn’t move the ball on Fulton in its opening possession, while the Falcons scored on their third offensive play of the game, with Marcellus Jackson scampering in on the left side from 10 yards out. Daniel Perez’ first point-after-kick of the evening made it 7-0.
Keean Vaughn had a 7-yard sack for Fulton to help mess up the Roadrunners’ second possession.
The quick-striking Falcons again scored in three plays, with Marcellus this time catching a 12-yard pass from Raysean to make it 14-0.
Surprisingly, Fulton didn’t score again in the first half and A-E’s defense gave the Roadrunners some momentum and hope.
Coach Mays saw some bright spots in his team’s play.
“I thought No. 35 (Camden Burse) ran the ball well,” he said. “Our defense had five takeaways. So, we had five takeaways and still didn’t score any points. That says a whole lot.”
Mays said he could feel the momentum changing a little in the second quarter. “We just didn’t capitalize on it though.”
Austin-East tackle Jabrillion Lauderback, who had four fumble recoveries in the contest, turned in his first big defensive play in Fulton’s third possession, tackling the Falcon quarterback for a 6-yard loss.
Jeremiah Conwell and James Walk stopped a scrambling Raysean Jackson on third down and forced the Falcons to try a field goal. A high snap, however, prevented the 34-yard attempt. It was a winning moment for the Roadrunners.
After Austin-East stopped Fulton again early in the second quarter, quarterback Lashaud Holloway completed an 11-yard pass to Sam Beaty on first down to get the Roadrunners into Fulton territory for the first time. A winning moment for the A-E offense. But a bobbled snap prevented getting a punt off and took away the field advantage.
The remainder of the first half was filled with turnovers by both teams.
“We had a few things penalty-wise that were undisciplined errors on our part and those are things we’ve got to get fixed before we go into this next one,” said Coach Black.
“I know there were a lot of positives tonight. Our effort was great.”
Fulton returned to its quick-scoring ways at the start of the second half as Shenault had back-to-back 30-yard runs to reach paydirt. In just six seconds, the Falcons had extended their lead to 20-0.
The Roadrunners’ Markeyis Billingsly had his best run of the game with a determined effort, carrying several tacklers in an 11-yard gain. But on the next play, Raysean Jackson intercepted an A-E pass at the Fulton 49. The Falcons fumbled it back to A-E two plays later.
Billingsley picked up a first down at the Fulton 38, but the Falcons’ De’Rondre Peebles tackled Beaty for an 8-yard loss and Raysean picked off another pass and returned it to the A-E 32 to end the threat.
A spinning Shenault gained 18 yards on fourth-and-four and Raysean Jackson hit Peebles with an 8-yard TD pass on the next play to make it 27-0 midway through the third quarter.
Austin-East’s Camden Burse ripped off three straight runs of 13, 13 and 16 yards, but the march ended at the Fulton 44. The Falcons quickly advanced the ball 55 yards in six plays and Shenault broke through the A-E line to score from 12 yards out. Marcellus Jackson added a two-point run to make it 35-0 and start the mercy rule clock.
As for the upcoming game against the Bobcats, Coach Black said, “It’s another rival type game. It will be huge. It’s two football programs that have some history. It will be another big one for us.”
Before he had left the field, Coach Mays had heard the final score of his next opponent in Clinton’s win at William Blount.
“They did pretty good tonight,” he said. “I heard they scored 41 points. That quarterback out there (at Clinton) kind of reminds me of the one we played tonight, an athletic kid that can run a little bit.”