Second half pushes Canton past Mineola Yellowjackets

Posted 9/1/22

The first indicator of the evening to come was during the run-in of the teams. Canton dressed out 41 football players – the Mineola Yellowjackets 28.

Granted, it’s an 11-on-11 game, …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Second half pushes Canton past Mineola Yellowjackets


The first indicator of the evening to come was during the run-in of the teams. Canton dressed out 41 football players – the Mineola Yellowjackets 28.

Granted, it’s an 11-on-11 game, but the numbers comparison alludes to the fact that Canton would have more options and fresher legs available when the air started to get heavy late in the game. 

That was indeed the case. Canton recorded the 34-27 win at Meredith Stadium in the Jackets’ 2022 home opener. In many ways, it was a tale of two halves.

The Jackets came out with great focus and energy. Behind Dawson Pendergrass’s slicing runs, the Jackets promptly drove 74 yards to the Eagle goal line. There, on a second and goal Pendergrass lost the handle on the ball just before breaking through a logjam at the goal line, and Canton took over.

The remainder of the first quarter was practically all Yellowjackets. They forced an Eagle punt and a turnover-on-downs. 

On Mineola’s second series, they were on the march again. A 15-yard carry by Keke Martin and a 22-yard carry by Pendergrass put the ball down on the Eagles’ 27-yard line. An errant snap sailed through the backfield and set the Jackets back near mid-field. The drive ended when Mineola missed on a wide receiver screen to Braydon Alley on a play which might have gone for a score.  

After killing the next Canton possession, the Jackets embarked on a 54-yard scoring drive. Pendergrass went over right tackle for a score from two yards out. Noah Turner converted the PAT and with 8:21 left in the first half, Mineola took a 7-0 lead.

The lead was short-lived. Canton’s leading offensive producer, Cam Shaw, fielded the kick-off on the numbers at the 30-yard line, broke through Mineola’s onrushing coverage team and raced for a 70-yard score. In a flash, the game was tied.

Despite the special team score, Mineola retained the momentum. Midway through the quarter, the Jacket defense produced a crushing tackle on the Eagle quarterback, jarring the ball loose and creating a turnover. Mineola was in business at the Canton 25-yard line. 

Three plays later the Jackets scored with Pendergrass cutting through a gap on the right side. Once again Turner converted on the extra point and Mineola led 14-7.

On the next Eagle offensive snap, Mineola defender Jamarcus Kennedy came within a hair of picking a wide-receiver screen deep in Canton territory. The ball whisked just past his fingers. The Eagles buckled down and drove 65-yards in 12 plays to score with just over a minute to play in the half. 

On the PAT attempt, Pendergrass leaped over the line, blocked the kick attempt and carried the ball the length of the field for a 2-point score. The stellar play gave Mineola a 16-13 edge at the half. 

The Yellowjackets had the better turn of play in the first half. It was felt that their efforts should have been rewarded with a larger lead.

The momentum turned in the second half. Canton scored on their first three possessions of the half. They did it with long, grinding drives, each containing one big play. They opened the half by scoring on a 45-yard quarterback scramble on which the Jackets missed a handful of tackles. The second score came on a 38-yard scamper through the backside of the Jacket defense, and the third on an 8-play drive which featured a 57-yard run.  

Mineola struck back with a 75-yard scoring drive of their own and converted a 2-point conversion to close the score to 27-24 early in the final quarter.

The Jackets used 12 plays to go 70 yards late in the fourth. A Turner field goal with 2:14 to play drew the Jackets to within seven points.

Mineola needed a turnover to give them one more chance. They got it. 

With just over a minute to play, Mineola recovered a fumble at their own 44-yard line. Three completions from TJ Moreland to Alley and Pendergrass put the ball on the Canton 37 with seconds left to play. 

A loose ball on the final play ended up in Canton’s hands, and the game ended to the Eagles’ advantage 34-27.    

Despite some stand-out defensive performances – Adam Blalock’s effort as an example – the Yellowjackets simply wore down in the second half. On three occasions, Jacket linemen came to the bench to recover from cramping and minor injury. Getting off blocks became tougher and tougher as the game ground on.  

Offensively, Mineola outgained the visitors 406 yards to 371 yards. Pendergrass accounted for 178 yards on 34 carries. Moreland went 13 of 22 passing and just missed some potentially game-changing connections through the air.   

A break here or there, and the score of this game could have been reversed. As it was, it proved an excellent challenge for the Yellowjackets and will certainly prepare them well for the upcoming season.

Mineola travels to Hughes Springs to take on the Mustangs Friday.