Too much Taylor.
That was the persistent problem for the Mariner Marauders, who were repeatedly burned by super-speedy running back Taylor Cox.
Coming up huge on homecoming night, Cox rushed 14 times for 181 yards and scored four total touchdowns, leading Jackson to a 39-29 victory in a key Western Conference South Division high school football game Oct. 17 at Everett Memorial Stadium.
For the first time since early in the season Cox is 100-percent healthy. The past several weeks he had been bothered by an ankle injury that occurred Sept. 19 in Jackson’s only loss this fall.
“I think the ankle’s finally coming back into form,” Jackson head coach Joel Vincent said.
All three of Cox’s TD runs came on long breakaways. He scored from 71 yards, 54 yards and 42 yards. His final TD run, the 42-yarder, essentially sealed it by giving first-place Jackson (4-0 Wesco South, 6-1 overall) a 39-21 lead with three minutes, 36 seconds to go. Cox also caught one pass, which went for a 9-yard score.
“That’s the old Taylor,” Vincent said of Cox, who entered the game as the South’s No. 3 rusher with 656 yards and a 10.1 per-carry average.
Riley Carr rushed for 63 yards and a TD for Jackson, which inched closer to clinching a Class 4A quad-district playoff berth. Quarterback Andy Gay passed for 132 yards and a pair of TDs, including a 64-yarder to John Wilde.
Asked how it feels to be back a full strength, Cox said: “It feels great obviously to be myself and I was making my cuts great tonight. Mariner was blitzing a lot but my (offensive) line picked up the blitz great to open up some running lanes for me tonight.”
Running back Adrien Black (three total TDs) had a strong performance for Mariner (3-2, 4-3), which is still in the mix for earning one of the South’s three playoff berths. Black caught two TD passes and also plunged into the end zone on a 3-yard run.
Cox had a huge first half, rushing seven times for 135 yards and two TDs as Jackson took a 20-14 lead to the intermission. After running for a 71-yard score early in the second quarter, he added another long TD on his next carry. He shook off a defender in the backfield, squirmed around the right end and blazed along the sideline during a 54-yard touchdown run.
He got a key block from Jordan Kellington on the play, which gave Jackson a 20-7 lead with 1:35 remaining in the half.
Jackson seemed ready to take that 13-point edge to the break, but Mariner used a late-hit penalty during a quick 65-yard scoring drive and cut it to 20-14. On the second play after Jackson was flagged for a late hit at its own 35-yard line, AJ VanWieringen, Mariner’s QB, completed a 14-yard scoring pass to Black, who was wide open in the right half of the end zone.
In the fourth quarter Mariner cut it to 26-21 when VanWieringen capped an efficient 10-yard drive with a 1-yard TD sneak. But on the Marauders’ next possession Jackson’s Taylor Mead made an interception that led to another Timberwolves score. Later in the quarter Jackson recovered a fumble, and on the next play Cox raced for his final TD.
Jackson hadn’t beaten Mariner since 2004, which means Jackson’s seniors tasted victory for the first time in the series.
“That’s always in the back of my mind,” Cox said. “Everyone here is excited about this win and we’re excited to come out and get a win against Mariner. It’s the first of my career and it feels good.”
T-wolves trip Marauders
•Senior running back Taylor Cox rushed for 181 yards on 14 carries and scored four touchdowns to lead Jackson to a 39-29 victory over Mariner in a Western Conference South Division game Oct. 17 at Everett Memorial Stadium.
•Jackson takes on Mountlake Terrace at 8 p.m,, Friday, Oct. 24 at Edmonds Stadium.