Jordan-Matthews (1-3, 1-1) earned its first win of the season Friday over the Bears (0-4, 0-2), 30-26. In a back and forth affair, the Jets continuously made crucial plays on defense and unleashed sophomore Nicholas Glover to help them come out on top.
Immediately after the game’s final pass hit the ground, call sheets flew in the air, coaches and players embraced each other and cheerleaders ran on the field to join the party by the Jordan-Matthews sideline.
The Jets’ head coach Ryan Johnson gathered his team and told them that order was restored in the county. That meant the two-game losing streak Jordan-Matthews suffered to its decades-long and historically inferior rival, Chatham Central, was no longer.
This was also the Jets’ first win since 2021.
“It feels good,” Johnson said. “The guys have worked hard the past three weeks. We came up short, but each week, we got better mentally. With the heat, we had to get creative with practice. But, those guys sunk in mentally this week, and (we) had a great plan for our coaching staff.”
According to Johnson, part of Jordan-Matthews’ game plan was to give its most dangerous offensive weapons, Glover and senior Gabriel Brewer, the ball in space.
The two combined for all five of the Jets’ touchdowns with Glover scoring four of his own.
Getting Glover in space was simple for Jordan-Matthews. The Jets just gave him the ball and let him work.
Glover capped off the Jets’ first two possessions with rushing touchdowns. Both runs — one for five yards and the other for 25 — started with a direct snap, and Glover used his speed and vision to weave through defenders and finish in the endzone.
“We saw a weakness when we ran the ball,” Brewer said. “They couldn’t stop it.”
Central responded with two of their own touchdowns, however. One of them was a failed snap that the punter, senior River Warren, kept alive and turned into an 84-yard touchdown pass to senior Devonte Johnson.
The other was a dot thrown by senior quarterback Logan Maness to junior Luke Gaines in the back corner of the endzone.
Glover came back with his third direct-snap rushing score to give the Jets a 18-14 lead late in the second quarter.
The advantage was short-lived, though, as Maness led the Bears’ offense right down the field and finished the first half with his second touchdown pass to senior Connor Kitchings.
The score remained 20-18 until Glover and Brewer came alive again for Jordan-Matthews in the fourth quarter.
The Jets began to pull away after freshman quarterback Raje Torres rolled left and found Glover wide open down the field for a long score. After forcing a turnover on downs, it was Brewer’s turn as he hit the edge for a 10-yard touchdown run, giving the Jets a 30-20 lead.
“We’ve got several weapons, and we’re blessed to have those,” Johnson said. “(Glover) hadn’t really had a breakout game this season, so it was good to see him on a roll.”
Glover finished the game with 100 rushing yards on eight carries and six receptions for 120 yards. Brewer had 65 rushing yards on five carries.
With the offense doing all it could to keep Jordan-Matthews afloat, holding off the Bears required some crucial stops from the Jets’ defense, though.
Jordan-Matthews came up with a couple of goal-line stands, including a late third quarter stop on fourth down that prevented a two-score deficit.
The most important one came on the game’s last play.
After a late fourth quarter touchdown reception from Central’s Jacob Gilliland brought the Bears within four, a short punt from Jordan-Matthews gave its rival the ball deep in Jets’ territory with under a minute left to play.
A shot downfield from Maness to Gaines brought the Bears within 10 yards of the goal-line, setting up Central’s final shot to the endzone.
Despite a procedural penalty putting Central outside of 10 yards, Maness attempted to hit a streaking Gaines again. However, Glover, who was playing safety, topped off his explosive night of offense with some defensive heroics — keeping everything in front of him and knocking the endzone shot down to secure the win for the Jets.
“I saw (Gaines) come out trying to go to the back pylon,” Glover said. “Got there. Made the play. Won the game.”
Order may be restored for the classic Chatham County rivalry in which the Jets usually dominate, but for Jordan-Matthews itself, Friday’s victory was one step towards the program returning to its winning ways of the past.
After not winning a game in 2022, the Jets now have a taste of what it takes to be successful, especially in clutch moments — something they’ll look to build on Friday when they take on a 2-2 Northwood team at home.
“We’re going to figure it out,” Glover said.
Said by Brewer, “Job’s not done yet. We got to work harder. We got Northwood coming up next, and we got to focus on them.”