BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Quarterback Mac Beason accounted for six touchdowns as the Gardendale Rockets defeated Jackson-Olin 58-12 in a Class 6A, Region 5 at J-O Field on Thursday night. The Rockets fast-paced tempo paid off as the Gardendale offense rolled for over 420 yards to get their first win of the season.
Gardendale (1-5, 1-2) used their passing game to be effective for much of the night. "I could tell we have improved some. We had good weeks of practice," said Rockets head coach Chad Eads. "Even though the win-loss not going the way we want it we still have a chance in the playoffs. We executed our plays and played hard. We are a young team, and our senior class is small, but they show great leadership in helping our younger players grow up. Mac has such an accurate arm, and we really missed him last week. He has confidence in himself and confidence in our receivers."
Beason completed 13-of-14 passing for 215 yards and five touchdowns, with 21 yards on five carries and a touchdown had the Rocket offense rolling. With 9:34 left in the first quarter, Beason found Jacoby Quates on a 7-yard touchdown pass play for the Rockets. With the score, Gardendale led 7-0.
Jackson-Olin (0-7, 0-4) responded on their next drive. With 6:30 left in the first quarter, Jose Davis took a handoff and raced 79 yards around the right end for a touchdown. With the score, the Mustangs trailed 7-6 midway through the first quarter. With 4:38 left in the first quarter, Beason hit Caiden Combs on a swing pass, and Combs raced 11 yards to the end zone as he ran through a tackle at the goal line for the touchdown. With the score, the Rockets led 14-6.
The Rockets offense scored again on a Beason 1-yard touchdown run. With 10:28 left in the second quarter, Gardendale led 21-6. "We have to go get momentum," said Rockets QB Beason. "We can go 3-7 and still win a state championship. As long as we keep going, two more region games, and we are in the playoffs. We wanted to take advantage of their defense. Playing cover three, we hit the seams, hitches, and quick balls. We went fast. We only had 27 plays and scored pretty quick."
With 4:35 left in the second quarter, Aydden Moody scored on an 8-yard touchdown run, and the Mustangs closed the gap to 21-12 late in the first half. With just 56 seconds left in the half, Beason found Carter Jenkins over the middle, and he raced 21 yards for a Rockets touchdown. With the score, Gardendale took a 28-12 lead into halftime.
The Rockets kept the gas pedal down and didn't let off the second half as with 10:55 left in the third quarter, Beason found Logan Fitzgerald on a 35-yard touchdown pass play, and the Rockets led 35-12 early in the second half. With 8:28 left in the third quarter, the Rockets defense scored a safety, and Gardendale led 37-12.
With 7:23 left in the third quarter, Beason found Jenkins on a 16-yard touchdown pass play, and the Rockets took a 44-12 lead. With only 20 seconds left in the third quarter, Milaki Handy scored on a 22-yard touchdown run, and Gardendale took a 51-12 lead. The Rockets scored again late in the game to go on for the 58-12 region win.
Gardendale center Lawson Hughes has been injured and played in his first game of the season Thursday night. "I wanted to come back and play with my teammates," said Rockets OL Hughes. "They mean the world to me. I wanted to flip this season around and make a playoff run. This was big. Looking forward to a good we of practice and keep moving on."
Next for both teams, Gardendale will host Minor as Jackson-Olin will travel to Woodlawn.