The Red Devil tailback had 130 yards to lead Campbell past Struthers 10-7.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
STRUTHERS -- Challenged by his coach to pick up his production, Campbell senior tailback Joe Jackson responded with one of the best games of his varsity football career.
Jackson rushed for 130 yards on 16 carries to help lead the Red Devils (1-1) to a 10-7 nail-biting victory over their backyard rival, Struthers (1-1).
"When it comes to big wins, one over Struthers is always at the top of the list," said Red Devils coach John Ryan after his defensive squad dodged several close calls and limited the Wildcats to 13 yards rushing on 20 carries.
"We think we have a nice offensive line, we're strong up front and we have some power runners, but we just couldn't get it done," Struthers coach Gary Zetts said.
"We had opportunities, but we didn't take advantage of them," Zetts said. "Obviously, they played a tremendous game.
"I thought their hitting and their speed was just phenomenal. Their running backs ran well, their quarterback did a decent job and their defense just totally stymied our offense."
After last week's 41-23 loss to Howland, Ryan said he suggested to Jackson that there was room for improvement.
"This week, he challenged me to step it up and push this team," Jackson confirmed. "This is our biggest game. This game is the one that can either break our season or make our season."
Jackson's first carry of the game was a positive omen for the Red Devils as he gained 56 yards to set up Campbell kicker George Malactaris' 32-yard field goal.
"The tight end wasn't in, so I penetrated the line," Jackson said. "I saw the linebackers overflow, so I cut it back" for a long pickup down the right sideline.
"When I first took the ball, I didn't think I would pick up much," Jackson said. "But when I got through the line, I knew there was room."
Midway through the second quarter, Struthers defensive back Dave Allen picked off a Rick Quinn pass to give the Wildcats a first down at the Campbell 10.
Struthers quarterback Tim Zetts hit running back Dave Livesay for a 7-yard pickup. But two runs for losses and a false start penalty led to a missed field goal attempt.
"When you have the ball on the 3 yard line and end up [getting pushed back to] the 15, it's just a compliment to [Campbell's defense]," Gary Zetts said.
In the third quarter, Campbell continued to nurse its 3-0 lead when Struthers punter D.J. Aldish connected for a 71-yard punt to pin the Red Devils at their 7 yard line.
Three plays later, Jackson broke through the Wildcats defense for a 48-yard pickup to set up Campbell's other score.
Rick Quinn's 11-yard touchdown pass to Tim Davis and Malactaris' extra-point kick put Campbell ahead 10-0 with 1:57 to go in the third quarter.
A shanked punt early in the fourth quarter sparked the Wildcats. Three plays later, Tim Zetts hit Eric Anderson with a screen toss for an 11-yard touchdown with 10:31 to go.
Zetts completed 10 of 22 passes for 60 yards, most of which came in the final quarter.
But the Red Devils defense harassed the Wildcats in their final three possessions, limiting Struthers to one first down to seal the victory.