ROGERSVILLE — Ben Jackson came to the sideline and took two big gulps of water during a timeout with just more than a minute left in the first quarter.
Barely any sweat dripped from his red-colored hair and down his face.
Jackson had ran the ball seven times, his last being for negative yardage, which prompted first-year West Greene coach Brian Hanson to call the timeout.
But as Jackson took the swigs of water, looking as fresh as he did prior to pregame warmups, he had already amassed 157 yards and scored three touchdowns ... in 10 minutes and 59 seconds.
No number of defenders Cameron (W.Va.) put in the tackle box — not the eight it usually had, or the 11 it could use or if it broke all rules and threw out each of the 14 players dressed on the sidelines — were going to stop Jackson.
Running over and around Cameron, Jackson had an opening night to remember as West Greene drubbed the visiting Dragons, 61-20, on a unique edition of Monday Night Football at Kennedy Field.
“I knew everyone had high expectations coming into this game. I tried to live up to them,” Jackson said. “I wasn’t sure how many yards I had. I didn’t know how many touchdowns until you told me. It feels good but it was about everyone in front of me. Everyone praises me but those guys push me to my best.”
The senior had 15 carries for 261 and six touchdowns. His scores were on runs of 11, 54, 63, 5, 6 and 43 yards.
Jackson wasn’t the only Pioneer to have success out of the backfield. Kolin Walker had 108 yards on 10 carries, including being pushed in for a 10-yard touchdown that gave West Greene a 40-6 halftime lead.
“It was an impressive performance,” said Hanson, who took over for Rodney Huffman in the offseason. “I didn’t think they wanted to tackle our running backs. Ben and Kolin were just laying the wood. They were running downhill and that’s their mentality. I’ve been on the other end of that when teams just run it down your throat. You feel helpless. You feel like you’re trapped under ice.”
Jackson exited the game after forcing a fumble on a pass near the sideline that was recovered and returned 30 yards by West Greene’s Austin Crouse for a touchdown. It put the Pioneers ahead 54-14 with 8:04 left in the third quarter and began the running-clock Mercy Rule.
“I was really nervous going into this game,” Hanson said. “I didn’t know my team other than seeing us at practice and in a scrimmage. I guess, with being new, it’s going to be like that on a weekly basis. I didn’t expect the first quarter to go the way it did.”
Three of the first four times Jackson touched the ball he ended up in the end zone. He took a simple dive play, bounced it to the outside and reached the ball across the near-side pylon to open the scoring less than a minute and a half into the game.
West Greene led 19-6 before four minutes elapsed from the clock on the new scoreboard, which paid great dividends on the opening night.
“It’s different playing on a Monday,” Jackson said, “especially since we have school tomorrow. That stinks. I have calculus in the morning.”