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Mineral Ridge wrecks Jays’ perfect mark

Correspondent photo / Michael Taylor Mineral Ridge's Jalen Royal-Eiland (4) runs past Jackson-Milton's Noah Kramer (15) during the Rams' 45-0 win.

NORTH JACKSON — The Mineral Ridge Rams wrecked the Jackson-Milton Blue Jays perfect season in dominating fashion on Friday night.

The Blue Jays began the season 4-0 before falling to the visiting Rams 45-0 in a MVAC Scarlet Tier duel.

“Like I told our players all week, undefeated no more,” Mineral Ridge coach Brian Shaner said. ” Jackson-Milton will not be undefeated after they play us. Well, my guys went out and proved me right.”

“That’s our brand of football. We played a tough beginning of the schedule. We’ve known we’ve had this kind of football team. It was just, when was it going to happen? It was finally tonight.”

After marching down the field and running in for a score, the Rams returned a pick-six and led 14-0. Junior Gil Blair added a 27-yard field goal after an interception by senior Jalen Royal-Eiland at the Blue Jay 25-yard line, and Mineral Ridge was up 17-0 at the end of the first.

Correspondent photo / Michael Taylor Mineral Ridge quarterback Mark Bunch (10) throws a TD pass.

The Rams continued the onslaught as the second quarter unfolded. Junior quarterback Mark Bunch found Royal-Eiland, who made a nice catch in the back of the end zone, and Mineral Ridge went ahead 24-0.

The Rams then went for the jugular and attempted an onside kick. Senior Marshall Mays recovered. Two plays later, senior Shakir Perkins had an impressive 22-yard touchdown run. The running clock rule was enforced after Mineral Ridge (2-3) took a 31-0 lead into halftime.

The Blue Jays picked up a couple first downs on their first drive of the third quarter. However, they couldn’t convert a fouth-and-3. The Rams took over at the Jackson-Milton 39-yard line.

Perkins reversed field and looked like a video game player in real life. He pounded the ball in for his second touchdown run of the night to put Mineral Ridge up 38-0 at the end of the third.

“Everyone thought we were going to lose,” Perkins said. “We just proved everybody wrong. It was a total team effort tonight. My line held the blocks so I could get in the end zone.”

Correspondent photo / Michael Taylor Jackson-Milton's Cole Grope (21) has the ball knocked away by Mineral Ridge's Jalen Royal-Eiland.

Senior Randall Miller was all over the field on defense for the Rams. Mineral Ridge’s defense was just as impressive as its offense.

Senior Tristan Weiss intercepted the ball in the end zone and returned it 100 yards for the touchdown, but the return was called back because of an illegal block in the back.

The penalty just delayed the inevitable as the Rams went on a 95-yard scoring drive, capped by an 8-yard run by senior Evan Erb.

“Great team effort. Great Mineral Ridge football team,” Shaner said. “Next week, Lowellville comes to us. It’s our last home game before the tournament. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Things don’t get any easier for the Blue Jays as they host the 2019 state runner up and undefeated Springfield next week.

“Mineral Ridge played really well,” Jackson-Milton coach Nathan Brode said. “This was definitely a letdown for us. We didn’t play our best game. Mineral Ridge is well-coached. They are physical and big. They were the better team tonight.”

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