Touchdown Jackson: The Power of Sportsmanship

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(DOTHAN) - When you think back on your childhood, you may not remember specific instances but instead, you remember how you were made to feel in those instances.

12-year old Jackson Powell will never forget how he scored his first touchdown. Powell,who was diagnosed with cognitive disabilities at birth, plays for the Westgate Cowboys.

He scored his first career touchdown on a 55-yard run.

Powell's touchdown did much more than light up the scoreboard for six points.

Fred Mitchell is the Quarterbacks and Running Backs coach at Houston Academy. Mitchell is an assistant coach for the Cowboys.

"It's something that Coach Clay, Mark and I have been talking about since the beginning of the season," said Mitchell.

"We've been wanting to try and find an opportunity to get him in the game and do something special for him. We had hoped to find the right opportunity to put the ball in his hands," he said.

The Cowboys found the opportunity they had been looking for one Thursday night in early October against the Wiregrass Jets.

In the beginning of the 4th quarter, trialing 27-6, Cowboys head coach Clay Wright called timeout.

"The play's actually called 'Touchdown Jackson'," said Wright.

"I went and talked to Lance, the Jets head coach and I told him we have a very special player in Jackson and it was just his dream to score a touchdown," he said.

Jets Head Coach, Lance Holbrook, has been coaching youth football nine years and he said he's never seen anything like Jackson's touchdown.

"Some things are bigger than football," said Holbrook.

"I thought it would be a very good moment, not only for him but for my team as well. I thought everybody involved would probably benefit greatly from it, more so than trying to play hard defense on a football play."

So, with his Jets team, already trailing by 21 points, Holbrook watched from his sideline as Jackson broke off a 55-yard touchdown run.

Hoolbrook pulled out his cell phone to capture Powell's first career touchdown and he wasn't the only one.

"It was just a scene to turn around when I saw the stands of our side and saw all the parents, every one of them had a camera out, every one of them was cheering, it just sent chills through everybody," said Mitchell.

Everybody except Jackson.

"Everybody was proud of me. It was fun and happy and awesome. I loved it," said Powell.

Powell's teammates hoisted him up on their shoulders and carried him off the field as if he had scored the game-winning touchdown, rather than the touchdown that put them up 33-6.

Coach Holbrook will never forget the look on his players faces.

"I guess what stands out to me the most is the look on my players faces when they realized what was going on," he said.

"I been coaching nine years and that's the first time I've ever seen that look on a players face, it was great," said Holbrook.

Coach Holbrook hopes people take away two things from the play "Touchdown Jackson"

"Special needs children can be a part of sports. I don't think we see enough of that," he said.

"I also want them to take away that sportsmanship is more important, and not only at our level but on any sports level, sportsmanship should be just as important as winning and losing."

"At the time, nobody looked at the scoreboard, nobody walked out of that park thinking who won and who lost. They thought about the character and sportsmanship that was shown out there on the field," said Coach Mitchell.

Jackson's touchdown aside, any player, parent or coach you talk to describes Jackson as a very fun-loving, affectionate 12-year old.

Mark Willis, another assistant on the Cowboys also coached Jackson in baseball.

"When he develops a fondness for you, he'll follow you around and pull for you, whether he's on your team or not," said Willis.

Powell's magnetic, loving personality helps set an example for his peers.

"Someone like Jackson, giving the effort he does and having that dream, it's just worth it for other kids to see that hey, if you work hard enough, your dreams are going to happen," said Coach Wright.

Jackson and the Westgate Cowboys will compete in their opening round playoff game on Monday, November, 4th at 6 pm at Westgate Park.