DCA’s ground game delivers decisive win at MTCS
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DCA’s ground game delivers decisive win at MTCS

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Jones, Russell combine for five rushing TDs as Wildcats dominate highly-anticipated opener

MURFREESBORO – Both Donelson Christian Academy and Middle Tennessee Christian were excited about the opportunity to open the season against each other after not getting to play one another last season.

The only smiles after Friday’s season opener, however, belonged to the faces of the visiting Wildcats.

Ashton Jones and Brady Russell combined for 214 rushing yards and five touchdowns as DCA pulled away early in the second half, winning 48-16.

Jones rushed for 144 yards and two scores, while Russell racked up 70 and found the end zone on each of his three carries.

“I can’t give a bigger thanks to my offensive linemen,” Jones said. “They start it all. They create plays and they make it happen.”

Russell would have had a fourth, but it was called back by one of the many penalties each team incurred on the night. The teams combined for 28 penalties and 200 yards of setbacks. DCA was flagged 15 times, while MTCS had 13 penalties.

DCA sophomore Ashton Jones celebrates with senior Nathan Magalei (7) after Jones’ first-quarter touchdown run. Jones scored twice and Magalei also found the end zone in the Wildcats’ 48-16 victory. (Kevin Smith/615 Preps)

“Week one stuff,” MTCS head coach Kolby Tackett said. “But we really shot ourselves in the foot.”

Jones found the end zone on his first two touches of the game, scoring on a 50-yard run and a 7-yard run in a span of 2:14 in the first quarter. He did have to leave the game due to cramps in the third quarter, joining several others who had similar difficulties in the humid August air, which was one thing DCA head coach Paul Wade wasn’t pleased with afterwards.

“I got on to him pretty bad about cramping because we have a rule, you don’t cramp in the game if you don’t cramp in practice, and we talk about going hard in practice, so you won’t cramp in the game,” Wade said. “We had some guys out so he had to play every snap both ways. That’s ironman football.”

Jones said he’ll make sure those cramps don’t become a repeat occurrence.

“Cramped up a little bit,” Jones said. “But it’s not going to happen again.”

Russell’s scoring runs came from 29, 21 and 20 yards as the Wildcats led 28-8 at halftime and extended the advantage to 41-8 after three quarters.

DCA’s defense didn’t let the Cougars have much of anything offensively, as MTCS managed just 32 yards passing and 3.8 yards per carry on 38 attempts. Cougar senior quarterback Aden Hooper was held to 20 yards passing, completing 4-of-17 attempts.

MTCS appeared to have grabbed some momentum late in the first quarter, after a short DCA punt gave MTCS great field position. Eli Wilson scored from 22 yards out with 28 seconds left in the quarter and David Cary recovered a Wildcat fumble on the next series. But the Cougars were unable to capitalize on that turnover and the game began to get away from them.

“We’re gassed,” Tackett said. “We dressed out 24 guys tonight. We shot ourselves in the foot – our big plays got called back. They whipped us.”

DCA senior quarterback Bradford Gaines threw for 160 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown to Nathan Magalei in the second quarter.

“Middle Tennessee Christian is a great team – they really are,” DCA quarterback Bradford Gaines said. “So to come out and score 48 on them, I’m very impressed with Ashton and all of our running backs – our whole team, really. I’m super proud of them.”

Middle Tennessee Christian senior quarterback Aden Hooper carries during the first quarter of Friday’s 48-16 loss to visiting DCA. (Kevin Smith/615 Preps)

Wade came away impressed with his team’s effort and the result.

“I thought it was very impressive,” DCA head coach Paul Wade said. “I knew the hype was real with (Tackett) and (Hooper) and knew they’d put some new stuff in. Our kids were excited to play tonight and see if we could face it and I thought we did a good job from the beginning.”

Tackett is hopeful that some better health is coming his team’s way.

“We get to play football,” Tackett said. “If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we can’t take this for granted. Healthy, I’m excited to see what this team can do. The kids tonight were awesome. They didn’t quit. We had a running back playing a fullback position tonight that he had about three minutes of preparation for.”

DCA hosts Harding Academy next Friday, while Middle Tennessee Christian travels to Grace Christian in Franklin for its Week 2 battle.

DCA 48, MTCS 16

DCA (1-0), MTCS (0-1)1st2nd3rd4thFinal


1st Quarter

DCA – Ashton Jones 50 run, 7:05. Braden Ducharme kick.

DCA – Jones 7 run, 4:51. Ducharme kick.

MTCS – Eli Wilson 22 run, 0:28. Briggs Boyd run.

2nd Quarter

DCA – Brady Russell 21 run, 6:35. Ducharme kick.

DCA – Nathan Magalei 70 pass from Bradford Gaines, 4:49. Ducharme kick.

3rd Quarter

DCA – Jones 47 run, 11:24. Ducharme kick.

DCA – Russell 29 run, 4:54. Ducharme kick.

4th Quarter

DCA – Russell 20 run, 9:08. Pass failed.

MTCS – Yates Geren 6 run, 1:47, Geren run.

First downs1112
Pass attempts-completions-interceptions8-14-14-17-0
Passing yards19532



DCA: Ashton Jones 10-144, Brady Russell, 3-70, Wesley Gober 6-18.

MTCS: Eli Wilson 13-50, Briggs Boyd 1-22, Yates Geren 4-21, Aden Hooper 10-17, Chase Mitchell 5-17, Cason Hill 3-16, Gabe Howell 2-4.


DCA: Bradford Gaines 7-12-1 160, Mitchell Carey 1-2-0 35.

MTCS: Yates Geren 1-1-0 20, Aden Hooper 2-15-0 12.


DCA: Nathan Magalei 2-80, Dayton Sneed 2-62, Stephen Altom 3-41, Russell 1-12.

MTCS: Jarick Reynolds 1-20, Eli Wilson 2-12.

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