Once West running back Arnez Jones gets inside the 5-yard line, his thinking becomes decidedly simple: Get airborne, and get in the end zone.
“If I can see the pylon and I’ve got some speed built up, I’m jumping,” Jones said. “And once I’m up there, I’m looking for the pylon, no doubt.”
Jones’ high-flying techniques worked for the Pioneers on Friday night in a 14-6 season-opening win over South at Carpenter Stadium as his 10-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter — the last three of four yards of which were spent in the air — gave West the lead for good.
Jones finished with 100 rushing yards on 19 carries, and also set up teammate Dorian Flournoy’s 8-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter with a 37-yard run to put the Pioneers inside the South 20.
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“We expect Arnez to do some things this year,” West coach Heath Henderson said. “And tonight is exactly what we’re hoping for all year long.”
Neither team was particularly sharp early in the game as they traded turnovers on fumbles in the first quarter.
West blew a big scoring opportunity in the second quarter when it reached the South 3-yard line on a second-and-goal situation before turning the ball over on downs after a pair of offsides penalties and a seven-yard loss.
“We made some mistakes early and we need to eliminate that,” Henderson said. “We’ve conditioned these kids to get ready for the third and fourth quarters.”
In the third quarter, South took a 6-0 lead after West shanked a punt deep in its own territory, giving the Titans the ball at the West 13. South quarterback DuWayne Kelly scored three plays later on a 1-yard run.
With time running out in the third quarter, Jones recovered a South fumble on a bad snap deep in Titan territory to set up his touchdown run two plays later. Flournoy’s touchdown came with 3:16 left in the game.
“I feel like we were the far better team on the field tonight,” South coach Cory Brack said. “It was a total lack of execution on our part and I’m not going to cut our guys any slack on that.”
Kelly led the Titans with 97 passing yards and 35 rushing yards.
West (1-0) 0 0 7 7 — 14
South (0-1) 0 0 6 0 — 6
S—Kelly 1 run (kick failed)
W—Jones 10 run (Griffin kick)
W—Flournoy 8 run (Griffin kick)
Rushing—West, Flournoy 13-24, Jones 19-100, Banks 2-0. South, Villereal 9-(-15), Watley 5-10, Kelly 17-35.
Passing—West, Flournoy 9-16-81-1, Jones 1-2-(-1)-0. South, Kelly 6-14-97-1.
Receiving—West, Banks 2-8, Hill 3-38, Jones 4-32, Sutton 1-2. South, Webber 1-9, Watley 1-12, Webber 1-9, Rideaux 1-9, Gilkey 1-48, Wilson 1-10.