By Gabriel Stovall
GRIFFIN, Ga. — Brown Right 25.
That was the play call that sprung Jonesboro senior tailback Montralius Mosley on a 99-yard touchdown burst that essentially drove the final nail in the coffin that housed Spalding’s hopes of going 7-0.
It was the ninth-ranked Cardinals’ first play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter, immediately after the Jonesboro defense stuffed Spalding quarterback Naricuss Dryver on a 4th and goal play at the Jonesboro two yard line.
The two-play turn of events was an abrupt shift in momentum from just a few moments earlier when Spalding was engaged in what looked to be an 11-play, 65 yard scoring drive that would’ve pulled the Region 4-AAAA leaders to within a touchdown of snatching control of the game.
Dryver — the same guy who torched Griffin a week earlier with a 94 yard score in that monumental win over his team’s cross-town rival — had no idea that his failure to push into the end zone was setting Jonesboro up to deliver the death knell to what had been a dominant — if at times sloppy — performance in Griffin’s Memorial Stadium.
But at first, Mosley’s carry looked to be just a run-of-the-mill, between the tackle play designed to get Jonesboro’s back off its own goal line.
“When I first got the ball, there was nothing there,” said Mosley, who finished the game with 206 rushing yards on 16 carries. “And then, next thing I knew, a hole opened up. I had some big time blocks, and I hit the hole as hard as I could.”
Those big time blocks came from a trio of fellow seniors in linemen Jeff Taylor — a Colorado State commit — and Sarry Pierre. Simon Obi was also in to seal off on the play.
“It was blocked perfectly,” Mosley said. “When I saw the hole, I knew all I had to do was hit it and win the track meet.”
Mosley’s 4.4 40-yard dash speed took care of the track meet part. Because Spalding loaded the box against the run, once Mosley cracked through that first wave of defenders, there was no second level help available to chase him down.
Once he got past the 50 yard line, the only thing in position to tackle Mosley was his own fatigue.
“I got a lot of confidence in my speed,” he said. “It’s just that that old bear got on my back at about the (Spalding) 30 yard line. That bear was heavy, too. It took me two series to catch my breath.”
Jonesboro fans haven’t caught theirs yet, as the Cardinals have only been 6-1 on three other occasions in their 69 years of playing football. Those times were during back-to-back 9-2 campaigns in 2011 and 2012 and in 1949 when that squad finished 10-2.
But while Jonesboro’s 2015 success may be raising eyebrows of surprise, there should be no shock in the way the Cardinals’ leading rusher played Friday night.
Before the game, Mosley spoke of how he loved playing in Memorial Stadium because he always seemed to have a good game there. Perhaps that’s why coach Tim Floyd and offensive coordinator Nate Wardlaw started the game off with such a steady diet of Mosley plays.
The first six Jonesboro offensive plays from scrimmage, in fact, were handoffs to Mosley — who’s now just 58 yards away from cracking the 1,000 yard mark. Throw in two caught passes and 10 of the first 12 offensive touches and 14 of the team’s 31 first half plays came his way.
“We most definitely try to get Montralius started early and often, and I think our offense builds on that and it expands and opens up other avenues for us,” Floyd said.
The gains were minimal at first. In fact, Mosley’s first carry of the game resulted in a loss of three yards. His next 10 carries — save a 10 yarder that was negated by a holding call — went for no more than seven yards.
But midway through the third quarter he began to find room. He burst for 32 yards on a 1st and 10 play that began a seven play, 70-yard scoring drive capped off with Zerrick Cooper’s five-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Griffin.
Mosley would later rip off a 25-yard pickup before his length-of-the-field jaunt that put Jonesboro up 21-2 at the 8:18 mark in the fourth quarter.
As a part of Mosley’s maturation as a running back, the 5-foot-8 senior has learned not to rush his offensive success throughout the course of a game.
“It was just taking what the defense gives us,” Mosley said. “Being a running back, you’ve got to be patient. The yards, they’re not always gonna be there first quarter, second quarter, but you have to keep working hard and it’s gonna open up for you sooner or later.”
Jonesboro (6-1, 3-0) will have a chance to run the table for the rest of the season, starting Friday with a tough matchup against a solid Riverdale squad which has its own intentions of staking its claim as the region’s best team.