It is always a big game when Jordan faces off against Hillside on the gridiron. In recent years, the Hornets and the Falcons have had some intense games, but none have been closer than the matchup Friday night.
To say the least, the odds were stacked against the Falcons entering Friday’s game. Due to injuries to quarterbacks Cam Carrow and Isaiah Williams, senior Joaquin Davis was moved up from third-string to starting quarterback, making his first-ever start at quarterback for the Falcons. A number of other injuries across the board left the Falcons shorthanded at many positions, but the Falcons were still determined to go out and get a win.
History was also not on the side of the Falcons. The last time Jordan was able to beat the Hornets in football came all the way back in 2006. Although recent history has not favored the Falcons, this year’s matchup marked the first time that these two schools have met in the Triangle-8 Conference. The Falcons entered Friday’s matchup looking to turn over a new leaf in the history of this storied rivalry.
The Falcons started the game out strong, taking an early lead due to a five-yard touchdown run by Andrew Hayes. The Hornets were quick to respond, driving right back down the field to punch in a running touchdown of their own. A blocked extra point by the Falcons allowed the game to stayed tied at six-all.
On the ensuing possession, an Andrew Hayes kickoff return worth better than fifty yards gave the Falcons excellent field position. Starting the drive on the Hillside 42-yard line, Joaquin Davis made sure to capitalize on the great field position, hitting wideout Jonathan Cradle for a 31 yard touchdown. A Randy Mendoza extra point made the game 13-6 to the Falcons, where it would remain going into the half.
The second half was dominated by the Falcons early on. With seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, Andrew Hayes was able to capitalize off yet another special teams play, this time returning a punt 60 yards for a touchdown, extending the Falcons’ lead to 20-6.
Later on, in the third quarter, Hillside was able to fight back and cut down on the Falcon’s lead. A 22-yard field goal, 39-yard touchdown pass, and two-point conversion later, and the Jordan lead was narrowed to only three points. Going into the fourth quarter there was still a lot left to be decided, with the Falcons clinging to a 20-17 lead.
At the end of a fourth quarter characterized by great defense, Hillside found themselves still down three points with just one minute left on the clock. It had seemed like the Jordan defense was able to come up big yet again, stopping the Hornets to force fourth down. Electing not to go for it on fourth down, Hillside coach Ray Harrison decided to let the fate of the game rest on the leg of the senior kicker, Mario Bustillo-Calix. Bustillo-Calix had hit from 22 earlier in the night but had also seen an extra point blocked. Not discouraged by the cheers of the Jordan fans or the clock stopped at under a minute, Bustillo-Calix stepped up kicked the 43-yard field goal straight through the uprights, tying the game at 20-20.
Unable to connect on a series of downfield shots, the clock hit zero with the score still tied. For the first time in recent history, the Hornets and the Falcons were going to overtime.
On the first drive of overtime, the Falcons were stopped on third down and were forced to put the game on the shoulders of their own senior kicker, Randy Mendoza. Mendoza, who is 19-21 on extra points for the season but had yet to kick a field goal, made easy work of the 23-yarder, splitting the uprights with plenty of distance to spare.
The field goal made the score 23-20 in favor of the Falcons, putting the fate of the game on their defense. The Hornets were in need of a field goal to continue the game, with a touchdown resulting in a Hillside win and a turnover allowing the Falcons to prevail. Hillside drove down to the Jordan 3, but the defense came up strong with a goal-line stand on third down, forcing the Hornets to line up for a field goal. Hillside sent their kicker back on to the field to attempt to tie the game yet again. But this time, the Falcons’ special teams rose to the challenge. A high snap botched an attempt at a fake field goal, and the Falcons special teams were all over it. The Falcons got into the Hornets backfield and forced a fumble which senior Marcus Greene recovered, ending the game. The Falcons rushed the field to celebrate their first conference victory of the season, and their first victory against the Hornets in over 10 years. Many excited students also hopped the fence separating the field from the stands to congratulate the players against the wishes of the athletics department and were herded off the field for the safety of players, coaches, and officials.
Many Falcons players came up with big plays on Friday night, but undoubtedly the player of the game for the Falcons was Andrew Hayes. Hayes had two touchdowns on the night, as well as 89 rushing yards. His contributions powered the Falcon’s offense all throughout the game, and was able to completely take over on special teams.
Joaquin Davis was also able to shine in his first career start at quarterback, completing 5 passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. Davis also picked up 25 rushing yards.
Without a doubt, the game on Friday was one of the most exciting Jordan High School has seen in recent history. The energy from the student section and the rest of the fans was strong and consistent throughout the night, and was able to help push the Falcons to this historic victory.
The Falcons will face off against Cary High School in their next home game on October 18th. The game is scheduled to kick off at 7:00 pm.