When push came to shove, first-year Jacksonville Coach Jordan Johnston put the ball in Devin Fordson's hands.
The junior running back rushed 24 times for 137 yards, and scored 2 touchdowns and a two-point conversion while leading the Titans to a 20-6 victory over Little Rock Hall on Friday at Scott Field.
It was a night of firsts. The Titans (1-2) got their first victory while the Warriors (2-1) suffered their first loss.
The victory was pleasing for Johnston.
"It feels great, but we have had so many opportunities in the first two games, but we just shot ourselves in the foot by not taking care of the ball," he said. "We did a better job of taking care of the ball this week, but we still missed a lot of opportunities on offense to score a lot more points.
"We've got to clean that up for our first conference game next week against Searcy."
Searcy is 3-0 and averaging more than 48 points a game. The Titans have scored only 28 points this season.
The Titans got off to a slow start, picking up just one first down in the opening quarter. Meanwhile, Hall had three in the quarter, one of them coming on a 57-yard run by quarterback Braelon Adams that put the Warriors on the 5. Dontevious Patterson took the ball in for the score on the next play with 3:11 left in the quarter.
On Jacksonville's first series of the second quarter, Webster Banks caught a 46-yard pass from quarterback Deorius Cobbs for a first down at the 2. Fordson took care of the remaining distance, and the score was tied 6-6 with 11:22 left in the first half.
Neither team could generate any more offense in the half. Each team moved deep into its opponent's territory, but both came up short. Hall had a fourth and 12 at the 26 but couldn't connect. Jacksonville faced a fourth and 5 at the Hall 21, but a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
The Titans controlled the ball for more than four minutes in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 13-yard pass in the corner of the end zone to Eddie McDade from Cobbs. Fordson added a conversion run for a 14-6 lead with 6:19 left.
On Hall's next possession, Adams missed on a pass to Kendrick Johnson, then lost 13 yards on the next two plays by getting sacked each time.
"Our defense really came through," Johnston said. "They stopped the run really well and pressured the quarterback."
Jacksonville sacked Cobbs four times unofficially and forced him out of the pocket numerous times.
On the Titans' final possession, Fordson gained 58 yards on 3 carries, including a 48-yard touchdown run to seal the victory.
Sports on 09/21/2019