When East Jessamine took the field Friday night at Dunbar, it was with a new-look offense that was launched 10 days before.
On Aug. 29, East quarterback Skyler Rose notified the team that he would need season-ending ankle surgery. Lucky for the Jags, they didn’t have a game that week and were able to institute a new offense centered around sophomore Ronnie Carson.
“The Jets run it; Denver ran it; let’s go with (Tim) Tebow-style stuff and just put an athlete back there and see what it looks like,” East coach Mike Bowlin said. “Ronnie Carson is the type kid who wants the ball and I thought, you know what? Maybe this is what we ought to be doing.”
Bowlin said from the first day at practice Carson picked up the offense and was very coachable.
“It brought a new element to the table; and Dunbar hadn’t seen it, so I said let’s go with it,” Bowlin said. “He played his heart out tonight, and I’m excited about where we’re going with things now.”
Carson started Friday’s game at quarterback and ran a wildcat-style offense that used eight different ball carries throughout the night. Carson and Blake Hinkle saw the majority of the carries and East had its best ball movement of the year.
Despite good ball movement with the run, East could not reach the end zone enough and lost to Dunbar 28-7.
The Jaguars’ lone scoring drive came in the third quarter. Starting at their own 7-yard line, the drive was built around a 73-yard run by Hinkle that moved the ball down to the Bulldogs’ 17-yard line. On the next play, Carson weaved his way into the end zone for a touchdown, and the extra point made it a 21-7 game.
East’s defense, which allowed 21 points in the first half, limited Dunbar to one touchdown late in the fourth quarter and forced three turnovers on downs and a punt in the second half.
“We played two defenses like we have all year long. (At halftime), I just told the kids to start playing a little wider on the runs because Dunbar was bouncing everything to the outside. I told our linebackers to widen up a little bit and turn everything back in on the run,” Bowlin said. “That also put us in a better position on the pass. (Dunbar) is so big on the inside, I was worried that they were going to knock it right down our throat inside.”
Two of Dunbar’s first-half scores came off turnovers by East Jessamine. Fumbles at the East 41 and Dunbar 22 ended Jaguar drives and set the Bulldogs up with decent field position. The Jaguars committed four turnovers; Dunbar had one. Skylar Stigall caused Dunbar’s fumble, and Cody Clark recovered the loose ball.
“The fumbles killed us. The two early in the ball game really, really hurt,” Bowlin said. “The game could have been 14-14 if we take those first two in and score. But give Dunbar credit; they were where they were suppose to be and took advantage when we made mistakes.”
Hinkle finished as East’s leading rusher with 101 yards on eight carries — both season highs.
“We’ve always known Blake was a good zone runner, and that’s what we ran tonight. It really makes a difference when you put a kid in a scheme that he’s comfortable with,” Bowlin said.
Carson had 100 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. He was 1-for-7 passing for minus-3 yards.
East Jessamine had a season high in total yards with 256.
“I think our team may have found a little rhythm and we got some things done offensively that we weren’t able to do in the first two games,” Bowlin said.
Bowlin said he expects Rose to be ready by the spring for his senior season next fall.
The Jaguars (0-3) return home next week to host Bullitt Central (2-2). East won last year at Central 15-10.