EDMOND — Jenks running back Alex Ross spoke only two simple words to describe what lies ahead for the Trojans in the Class 6A semifinals — a rematch with rival Tulsa Union.
“It's time,” Ross said after rushing for 258 yards and three touchdowns in Jenks' 48-21 win that ended Edmond Santa Fe's fantastic turnaround Friday night at Wantland Stadium.
In his first game back since suffering a broken collarbone on Oct. 7, Ross slowly worked his way back into action but exploded in the second half with 198 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
Edmond Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen threw for 357 yards and two touchdowns in the finale of his sophomore season in which he guided the Wolves to a 10-2 mark a year after winning just one game.
But Jenks was able to come up with three interceptions (five takeaways in all) and kept consistent pressure on Hansen with five sacks to keep the Santa Fe offense off balance.
Yet it was the Jenks offense that turned the game around.
Late in the third quarter with the Trojans leading 28-21, Edmond Santa Fe had Jenks pinned at its own 9-yard line, facing third-and-10. Ross ran left, cut back through a crease and broke away for a 91-yard touchdown that sparked a runaway victory.
“It was a momentum-lifter for us, but I think it was a momentum-stealer for them,” Jenks coach Allan Trimble said. “Alex is an inspiration. He hasn't been full-speed since September. It's not only his performance on the field, but the other kids just seeing him out here is very inspiring.”
There will be no need for added inspiration next week. Union defeated Jenks 41-19 in the second week of the season, not to mention the Redskins' victories in the last three 6A state championship games.
Union and Jenks is usually saved for the title game, but this year's meeting will come in the semifinals, with Owasso and Broken Arrow meeting on the other side.
“We've been wanting the rematch with Union since Week 2,” Jenks quarterback Hunter Collins said. “You know it'll be a big game.”
Added Trimble: “It's a great rivalry. Union is a great team. They've won three in a row. It's gonna be a huge challenge, because I don't think they're gonna give it away.”
Ross was playing on a bad ankle in the previous meeting with Union and broke his collarbone a few weeks later. Now, he's clearly healthy for Round 2 of the Backyard Brawl.
“We're gonna get 'em. We're gonna get after 'em,” Ross said. “They're a good team, so we're gonna have to work hard. But we're ready for it.”