JEFFERSON — Jackson County senior fullback Austin McDonald, who became the hero last week with the game-winning touchdown in a weather-shortened contest, came through again Friday for the Panthers, helping them to a 21-3 win over Walnut Grove at Panther Stadium.
McDonald carried the ball 25 times for the Panthers (2-0) for 175 yards.
"This is a spread offense but if we can run the football then we are going to run the football," Jackson County coach Billy Kirk said.
The Panthers struck first near the end of the first when quarterback Kyle Daniel connected deep to Ben Bissey for a 60-yard strike.
McDonald would give the Panthers some breathing room right before half on a 4-yard run after a roughing-the-punter call on the Warriors put the Panthers back in business for the touchdown drive.
McDonald rushed for 82 of his 175 yards in the first half.
Walnut Grove struggled the move the ball in the first half, only accounting for four first downs on six possessions. It would have better success in the second half but was plagued with penalties, eight for 75 yards.
The Panthers' defense came up big all night, stopping the Warriors on three fourth-down tries.
Sophomore Garrett Holt nearly missed tying Jackson County single-game record with three interceptions.
Backup quarterback Jalen Banks scored on a 2-yard run to give the Panthers a 21-0 lead with less than two to play.
Walnut Grove kicker Tyler Zielenske avoided the shutout for the Warriors with a 37-yard field goal with six seconds left.
Kirk said there are still several things that his team will have to improve in order to keep winning.
"We made a lot of mistakes out there turning the ball over. We have to get better at doing the fundamental things and executing," Kirk said.
Jackson County will face Fannin County next week in its first road game.