BOSTIC – Forget kryptonite. Polk County showed Friday that you can stop Superman by never giving him a chance to take off.
East Rutherford’s Calvin Jones proved as electric as expected, but the Wolverines minimized his touches and maximized theirs. That proved a winning formula as Polk County claimed a 35-19 victory at Harrill Stadium.
In winning for the first time at East Rutherford (granted, in just three tries), the Wolverines wrapped up non-conference play a perfect 6-0, its best start since 2010. Polk begins Western Highlands Conference play next week with a Homecoming matchup against Madison.
East Rutherford’s leader in nearly every statistic, Jones did score a pair of touchdowns, one on a dazzling interception return. But the Wolverines controlled the ball for more than 28 minutes while racking up 397 yards rushing, with two backs surpassing 100 yards, and scored on five of seven possessions.
“We kind of imposed our will,” said Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis. “We made a mistake early on the pick for the touchdown. Once I saw (Jones) catch it I knew it wasn’t going to end well.
“But nobody panicked. This was a team effort. A lot of people contributed.”
Perhaps no one aided Polk County’s cause more than defensive back Tyler Staley, who helped turn the game firmly in Polk’s favor with two key plays in the third quarter.
The Wolverines held a 21-13 halftime lead, but East Rutherford (0-6) took the opening kickoff of the second half and began to drive. That possession reached the Polk 30, where on fourth-and-4, the Cavaliers took a shot at the end zone. Staley, though, got a hand on the pass near the goal line and knocked it away, ending that threat.
Polk then kept the ball for more than seven minutes, driving 70 yards in 10 plays. Angus Weaver capped that trek with a 10-yard scoring run, and Matias Akers’ extra point made it 28-13 with 2:34 left in the quarter.
The Cavaliers began to march again before Staley struck once more, making a diving interception of an overthrown pass at the Polk 33. Weaver ripped a 26-yard run to kickstart a possession that ended with Nate Henderson’s 12-yard sweep around right end and into the end zone. Akers drilled the point after to give Polk a 35-13 lead with 10:47 remaining.
“That was a huge play to get a tip on that ball,” Ollis said of Staley’s deflection. “That’s a fourth-down play, and if they score there, it’s an entirely different game.”
Staley added a second interception on the final play of the game.
That Polk had an eight-point halftime lead came courtesy of a scoring drive just before the break. After East scored on Jabar Mayse’s 7-yard touchdown catch with 2:01 left to cut Polk’s lead to 14-13, the Wolverines marched 57 yards in seven plays for a key score.
Long runs by Gage McSwain and Bryce Jergenson helped move the Wolverines to the 5-yard line, where Jergenson spiked the ball on first down to kill the clock with less than 20 seconds remaining in the half. Out of timeouts, Ollis still opted to call Weaver’s number, and the freshman plowed up the middle and into the end zone with 11 seconds left. Akers’ extra point upped the lead to 21-13.
“I’m awfully proud of that drive before the half,” Ollis said. “We didn’t go to our two-minute offense. We just ran our regular attack and just took it down the field. That was a big score from a momentum standpoint.”
Polk scored on the opening drive of the game on Jergenson’s 1-yard run, then seemed set to score on its second possession when Jones picked off a pass at the Cavalier 31 and sped through much of Polk’s offense to the end zone, tying the game at 7-7 on the first play of the second quarter.
The Wolverines, though, answered shortly thereafter on a McSwain 42-yard scoring scamper. McSwain finished the night with 137 yards on 12 carries, with Weaver adding 106 yards on 13 carries. It marked the first time this season that Polk had a 100-yard rusher.
Travonta Mauney finished 17-for-25 passing for 269 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Jones had five catches for 79 yards and a score and nine rushes for 32 yards.
Polk County 7 14 7 7 — 35
East Rutherford 0 13 0 6 — 19
PC – Bryce Jergenson 1 run (Matias Akers kick), 8:12
ER – Calvin Jones 69 interception return (Austin Means kick), 11:42
PC – Gage McSwain 42 run (Akers kick), 7:18
ER – Jabar Maybe 7 pass from Travonta Mauney (kick blocked), 2:01
PC – Angus Weaver 5 run (Akers kick), :11
PC – Weaver 10 run (Akers kick), 2:34
PC – Nate Henderson 12 run (Akers kick), 10:47
ER – Jones 36 pass from Mauney (kick blocked), 7:56
PC – Gage McSwain 12-137, Angus Weaver 13-106, Lukas Tipton 8-47, Cameron Blackwell 3-39, Bryce Jergenson 6-29, Nate Henderson 4-24, Jordan Bishop 2-15. ER – Calvin Jones 9-32, Julion Whitesides-Hamilton 5-12, Travonta Mauney 4-10.
PC – Bryce Jergenson 2-4-34-1. ER – Travonta Mauney 17-25-269-2.
PC – Steven Chupp 1-22, Jordan Bishop 1-12. ER – Calvin Jones 5-79, TJ Watkins 5-66, Jalen Davenport 3-51, Matthew Hunt 1-46, Jabar Mayse 2-26, Julion Whitesides-Hamilton 1-1.