Jackson leads Cheektowaga to comeback OT victory
“I told you,” Jackson exclaimed, jumping up and down, smacking pads with his teammate.
Cheektowaga Central found itself in a 14-0 hole to Burgard early in the fourth quarter before Jackson accounted for 14 of their 20 unanswered points as the Warriors snatched the win in overtime 20-14.
“I had no doubt in my team,” said Jackson. “I knew we were going to get back in the game and overcome. That’s what we do.”
An All-Western New York candidate at running back, Jackson’s performance at three other positions is what propelled Cheektowaga to victory.
At linebacker, Jackson picked up two sacks, while Burgard tried to run the clock out up 14-8 with 2:29 left. On the first, he failed to pry the ball loose, but he ripped it out of quarterback Daquan Walker’s hands on the very next play and bolted for six to tie the game at 14.
“I was just so into the game,” said Jackson. “I just thought, ‘Let’s get this ball; let’s get this touchdown; and let’s get back in this game.’”
At wide receiver, Cheektowaga faced a fourth-and-20 when Jackson lined up at the numbers, sprung past the Bulldogs’ backfield and snatched the ball out of the thin air for the 30-yard, game-winning score.
“We couldn’t afford to let them get the ball back and score on us in overtime,” Jackson said. “I just put my heart into it, jumped up, got the ball — game over.”
Jackson also lined up at quarterback, where he completed a pass for a two-point conversion earlier.
“We came out of the half with the right attitude,” said Warriors’ head coach Mike Fatta. “No matter how much time was left on the clock, we had a chance to pack it in and we kept making plays.”
With Cheektowaga and Burgard scoring 53 and 42 points, respectively, last week, both squads put an emphasis on defense heading into their Sept. 8 match up.
Walker connected with Jamar Holmes for a 26-yard touchdown on Burgard’s opening drive and took that 8-0 lead into the 4th quarter. On the first play of the fourth, Sean Marshall scored on a direct snap to stretch the lead to 14.
Cheektowaga finally got on the board with under eight minutes left in regulation. Quarterback Tim Whelan threw to Preston Summers when Holmes, who had an interception earlier, tipped the ball, only for it to fall into Summers’ hands behind him for the 29-yard touchdown.
For the two-point conversion, Jackson lined up at quarterback in the shotgun, while most of his team was away from the ball on the left side of the field. Jackson rolled right and found Louis Hyatt for the two, cutting their deficit to six.
It seemed like the game was over after Burgard’s Rodderick Morrow sacked Whelan on fourth down with 2:29 to go, but Jackson was taking a sack and fumble into the endzone for the game-tying score 30 seconds later.
The Bulldogs got the first crack at it in overtime, but they lost control of the snap on fourth-and-goal at the one.
On the next possession, the Warriors gained little to no yards on first and second downs before Whelan got tackled in the backfield to place Cheektowaga at Burgard’s 30, creating a fourth-and-20.
The junior quarterback then stepped back in the pocket and let the football fly. Jackson was on the other end, catching the ball at its highest point in the left corner of the endzone for the game-winner.
“I knew it was going to be a defensive battle,” said Burgard head coach Jason Kolb. “We just gave up three plays to them. Marquel Jackson had a huge game for them. He’s a difference maker.”
“This win was very important,” said Jackson. “We knew we were the two teams to beat in the division. We just wanted to come out here and let them know who’s number one.”