JEFFERSON DRAGONS 2013 GAME-BY-GAME
2013 Dragons close out season with disappointing 35 - 24 loss to number one ranked Lamar County.
BARNESVILLE — A promising start gave way to a disappointing finish in Jefferson’s 35-24 loss to Lamar County on Friday.
The Dragons (10-3) led the Trojans (13-0) 17-14 at halftime of the Class AA quarterfinal — the first time Lamar County had trailed all season.
Two of Jefferson’s three turnovers led to Lamar County touchdowns. Evan Shirreffs, who got his first start at quarterback since October, had his second pass picked off by Georgia Tech commit Quay Searcy, who returned it 40 yard for a touchdown.
Jefferson fumbled on its first drive of the second half and Lamar County’s Ray Lyons recovered the ball on the 24-yard line.
Two plays later, Lance Austin completed a 31-yard pas to Searcy to give Lamar County the lead.
“You can’t turn the ball over, give them a short field and allow them to score,” Jefferson coach Ben Hall said.
Lamar County scored on three of its first four possessions in the second half and broke open an 18-point lead that the Class AA defending state champion Dragons couldn’t climb out of.
Lance Austin scored three times, including touchdown runs of 7 and 39 yards in the fourth quarter.
“We knew going in we were going to have to play just about a perfect ball game,” Hall said.
Jefferson relied heavily on the run throughout the first half, mirroring its game plan from its earlier playoff wins.
On the ensuing drive, Tristen Jackson carried the ball eight times for 68 yards, including a 47-yard run that set Jefferson up on the 17. After five more Jackson rushing attempts, Austin Pankevich hit a 32-yard field goal.
Lamar County’s Lance and Lawrence Austin split rushes on the Trojans’ first offensive drive, and Lance capped it with an 18-yard scoring run to end the first half.
Jefferson responded with a six-minute drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Shirreffs to Dalton Hill. Shirreffs finished the half 2 of 6, both caught by Hill.
Jefferson ended the half with a long scoring drive that was extended after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Lamar County.
Isaiah Blake, who finished the half with 18 carries for 88 yards, scored off a 2-yard dash to put the Dragons ahead 17-14 with 10 seconds left.
Score by quarter
Lamar County — 14-0-7-14 — 35
Jefferson — 3-14-0-7 — 24
LC — Quay Searcy 40-yard interception return (Tyler Scandrett kick) 11:08
J — Austin Pankevich 32-yard field goal, 5:40
LC — Lance Austin 18-yard run, (Tyler Scandrett kick), 2:19
J — Dalton Hill 5-yard catch (Evan Shirreffs pass, Austin Pankevich kick), 7:58
J — Isaiah Blake 2-yard run (Pankevich kick), 0:10
LC — Searcy 31-yard pass from Lance Austin (Tyler Scandrett kick), 4:57
LC — Lance Austin 7-yard run (Tyler Scandrett kick), 10:35
LC — Lance Austin 39-yard run (Tyler Scandrett kick), 5:16
J — Hill 80-yard catch (Shirreffs pass, Pankevich kick), 5:03
Never-say-die Dragons pull out big win over Heard County
A late-game adjustment at quarterback helped propel Jefferson to a 61-57 win over Heard County in the Class AA second round on Friday.
Quarterback Evan Shirreffs took over for T.J. Skelton, who’d spelled Shirreffs after he sustained an injury on his throwing hand in October, in the final minutes of the Dragons’ (10-2) rainy victory in the second round of the Class AA state playoffs.
Jefferson coach Ben Hall had expected to run a two-quarterback system heading into the game, but rainy weather and strong offensive production led him to hold off on the switch until the Dragons’ final possessions.
“We were moving the ball offensively and there was no need to change,” Hall said. “It was raining from early in the second quarter on. We were in a position where we didn’t feel like changing quarterbacks was the right answer at the time. We were down by 10 and decided we were going to throw it, put (Shirreffs) in and he executed well.”
With Shirreffs at quarterback, Skelton shifted to his natural spot at wide receiver. With just more than a minute remaining and with the Dragons trailing, Shirreffs hit Skelton for a 9-yard touchdown. Skelton finished with three touchdown passes, a touchdown reception and a rushing score.
“It was a just a matter of who had the ball last,” Hall said. “Neither team could stop the other.”
Jefferson couldn’t stop Heard County running back Duranta Dunson, who rushed for 490 yards and set a state record.
It was the first time Jefferson had given up more than 50 points since a 53-51 triple-overtime win over Fitzgerald in last season’s state quarterfinals.
“It was a matter of containing and tackling,” Hall said. “We didn’t do that. They have a physical offensive line and a tremendous running back. It was all we could do to win the game.”
Jefferson will visit Lamar County on Friday for the state quarterfinals.
Dragons rally over Heard County
FRANKLIN — Jefferson’s T.J. Skelton, who played quarterback for much of the evening Friday, caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Evan Shirreffs with 1:06 remaining as the Dragons fought back from a 10-point deficit to defeat Heard County 61-57 in the second round of the Class AA state playoffs.
Jefferson, the defending Class AA state champion, won despite a 511-yard, five touchdown performance fromHeard County’s Duranta Dunson.
The Dragons, who trailed 57-47 with six minutes remaining in the game, posted 14 fourth-quarter points as Tristen Jackson scored on a 9-yard run to set up the game-winning score.
In the third quarter, Skelton hit Dalton Hill on a 38-yard touchdown pass and Isaiah Blake rushed five yards for a score.
The Dragons (10-2), who tallied 60-plus points for the third time this season, scored 21 points in the first quarter as Skelton got things moving with a 55-yard touchdown run. Jackson tallied the second score with a 15-yard rush and then Skelton connected with Darrian Hill on a 3-yard touchdown pass.
In the second quarter, Isaiah Blake scored on a 38-yard run and Skelton hit Chandler Thompson on a 6-yard scoring strike.
The Dragons, ranked No, 10 in Class AA, advance to the third round of the playoffs and on Friday will face No. 1 Lamar County (12-0), which defeated Thomasville 38-20.
Rainy first round: RB Jackson helps Jefferson shut out Westminster in Class AA's opening round.
JEFFERSON — Last season, Tristen Jackson helped Jefferson win its first state title.
On Friday, the senior running back keyed the Dragons (9-2) to a 28-0 victory over visiting Westminster (5-6) in the first round of the Class AA playoffs.
Jackson hauled in a touchdown pass and rushed for two more scores in Jefferson’s rainy rout of Westminster.
Jackson was injured during the Dragons’ victory over Greene County early this season and was held out of a few games while he recovered.
“He’s battled that all year, and we actually held him out two or three games,” Jefferson head coach Ben Hall said. “He’s starting to get his stride. I was proud of him.”
Said Jackson: “We didn’t expect the rain. We started changing the game plan, started running between the tackles and it started working for us.”
Jefferson opened the game with a four-and-a-half-minute drive that culminated with T.J. Skelton finding a wide-open Jackson on a 19-yard scoring pass on fourth-and-four.
On the ensuing drive, linebacker Trent Sorrells picked off Westminster quarterback Jake Forte’s first pass of the night, but the Dragons failed to convert the turnover into points.
Jefferson withstood a flurry of long runs from Westminster freshman running back Isaiah Malcome, who rushed for 65 yards on 13 carries in the first half. On Westminster’s second drive, Malcome rushed for 23 yards and the drive ended when a bad snap ended the Wildcats’ 41-yard field goal attempt.
“We knew all about (Malome),” Hall said. “It was just a matter of they’re big up front and they were blocking us at time. It’s hard to find that little guy, he’s 5-foot-2, 5-3, low to the ground and he’s fast, but we adjusted.”
Isaiah Blake, who rushed for 55 yards on 10 carries in the first half, scored off a 5-yard run with 7:59 left in the half.
Jefferson, which posted its fifth shutout of the season, recovered a Westminster fumble on the opening drive of the second half. Stephen Nguyen recovered the ball on the 24-yard line. Four plays later, Jackson scored off a 1-yard run.
“Knowing that the other team won’t score any points, that you can kick a field goal, just score once and they don’t score any points against us, we win the game,” Jackson said. “It takes a lot off of us and we keep praising (the) defense, keep shutting them out.”
Jefferson will play Heard County at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
JEFFERSON 49, UNION COUNTY 3: At Blairsville, Sammy Williams rushed for 154 yards and three-first half touchdowns as the Dragons, ranked No. 10 in Class AA, scored a decisive Region 8-AA victory.
Williams ran for touchdowns of 1 and 7 yards in the first quarter and scored on a 1-yard run in the second.
Jefferson also got first-half scores from Hannon Price, who returned an interception 35 yards, and T.J. Skelton, who threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Tristen Jackson.
In the third quarter, the Dragons scored on a 1-yard rush by Zack Boobas and in the fourth quarter, they scored on a 10-yard pass from Lane Sorrow to Jackson.
Jefferson (8-2, 6-1) is the No. 2 seed from its region and will host Westminster at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs.
Dragons roll over Riverside 62 - 23
GAINESVILLE — Jefferson’s Isaiah Blake, T.J Skelton and Sammy Williams carried the day Friday as the Dragons — ranked No. 10 in Class AA — decimated Riverside Military Academy 62-23, recording 60-plus points for the second consecutive week.
Blake scored on a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs in the first quarter. Also in the first quarter, Trent Sorrells recovered a blocked punt in the Riverside Military end zone. In the second quarter, Williams posted touchdown runs of 1 and 30 yards and Skelton scored on a 46-yard run and tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Blake.
Leading 49-9 at the half, the Dragons scored in the third quarter on a 53-yard pass from Skelton to Rodney Carr and closed out the scoring with a 52-yard rush from Darian Hill.
Jefferson 68 - Social Circle 0
JEFFERSON 68, SOCIAL CIRCLE 0: At Jefferson, the Dragons (6-2, 4-1) scored 27 first-quarter points en route to a Region 8-AA rout of winless Social Circle.
In the first quarter, Isaiah Blake scored on runs of 3, 22 and 15 yards, and Sammy Williams scored on a 14-yard dash. In the second quarter, Tristen Jackson scored on a 1-yard run, Cooper Young returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown, Williams scored on a 1-yard run and Lane Sorrow connected with Rooney Carr on a 53-yard touchdown pass.
In the third quarter, Blake Wright scored on a 20-yard run and Zack Boobas completed the scoring on a 12-yard run.
The 68 points tied a school record for most points ever scored in a game and largest margin of victory.
Jefferson defeated Lavonia 68 - 0 in 1958.
JEFFERSON 41, OGLETHORPE COUNTY 0: At Lexington, T.J. Skelton threw for 103 yards and two touchdowns to Dalton Hill as the Dragons — ranked No. 10 in Class AA — blanked the Patriots.
Isaiah Blake led Jefferson’s ground game with 101 yards and a touchdown and he was followed by Sammy Williams (68 yards), Tristen Jackson (42 yards, one touchdown) and Zach Boobas (40 yards). Blake scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter and Jackson scored on a 4-yard rush in the second quarter.
Hill had touchdown receptions of 52 and 25 yards.
Jefferson also scored on a 21-yard fumble return by Hunter Gatlin, a 40-yard field goal by Austin Pankevich and a 29-yard field goal by Diego Tello.
The Dragons (5-2, 3-1 in Region 8-AA) will host Social Circle at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Oglethorpe County (1-6, 1-3) will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Greene County.
Skelton’s TD lifts Dragons in OT
JEFFERSON – T.J. Skelton scored on a 12-yard run in overtime Friday to lead Jefferson to a 26-20, come-from-behind victory over previously undefeated Rabun County.
Skelton rushed for 119 yards to lead the Dragons, who missed two extra points and a short fourth-quarter field goal and turned the ball over four times in the third quarter, resulting in two Rabun County scores.
Jefferson, ranked No. 10 in Class AA, opened the scoring with eight minutes remaining in the first quarter on an 18-yard pass from Skelton to tight end Donnie Hatfield and Sammy Williams scored on a 1-yard run to put the Dragons up 13-7 at the half.
After the Dragons’ disastrous third quarter, Skelton tied the game 20-20 on a 3-yard run with 3:28 to play.
Washington-Wilkes Rocks Jefferson 21 - 14
Dragons fall to North Hall 41 - 34
JEFFERSON — North Hall can credit Friday’s 41-34 win over defending Class AA state champion Jefferson to some good hands work in the fourth, though turnovers were holding the Trojans’ offense back for much of the first half at Memorial Stadium.
Leading for the entire fourth quarter, North Hall managed to recover an onside attempt twice in the final period, then covered a short kickoff after the Dragons (2-1) third touchdown of the fourth quarter to preserve the win.
With the win, North Hall moves to 3-0 for the first time since 2007.
“This is just a great momentum boost for us against a great Jefferson program as we get ready to go into region play,” said North Hall senior quarterback Andrew Smith, who rushed for 120 yards and ran for two touchdowns.
One of the biggest plays came with the Trojans ahead 27-21 early in the fourth quarter. Jefferson went with a straight-on onside kick attempt that Trojans senior Nolan Tucker fielded cleanly and held on to as he was hit hard into the turf.
After a Tristen Jackson run for a Jefferson score midway through the fourth quarter, North Hall’s Drew Atha recovered the Dragons’ second attempt at an onside kick.
“We felt that by the time we got to the fourth quarter that we couldn’t stop North Hall anymore,” Jefferson coach Ben Hall said. “And I wasn’t crazy about kicking it to the Smith kid, either.”
That precision on the special teams was crucial for North Hall, which rushed for 455 yards on the night, but turned it over twice inside the Jefferson 20 twice on offense and again on a fumble when a punt returner didn’t catch the ball cleanly in the third quarter.
With the win, Trojans coach Bob Christmas opted to give his team Monday off from practice with a bye Friday before opening Region 7-AAA play against Dawson County on Sept. 27 at The Brickyard.
“I couldn’t be more proud of how our team played against a great Jefferson program,” Christmas said.
“Without those turnovers, it could have been a totally different game, but our kids stayed in there and were able to fight until the end.”
Christmas said that beating a quality opponent such as Jefferson was a big momentum for the Trojans, despite some miscues early. Jefferson only managed to score one touchdown off a North Hall turnover.
Leading 35-27 late in the fourth quarter, North Hall scored its final touchdown when Smith ran through the line on a keeper, fumbled the ball forward, picked it up and ran in untouched 23 yards for the touchdown.
Along with a 27-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Smith also threw a 33-yard touchdown strike to Lee Shelton in the first quarter that tied the score at 7-7.
Destin Bennett, a senior, also scored on a pair of short touchdown run for the Trojans and finished the game with 46 yards rushing.
Despite the big night running the ball for North Hall, Jefferson hung in until the very end behind the 296 yards passing from junior quarterback Evan Shirreffs and hard-nosed running of senior running back Tristen Jackson (69 yards, TD).
Jefferson drew to within six points in the first minute of the fourth quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Blake. After the failed onside attempt, Bennett scored seven plays later on a run from the 1.
Jackson drew Jefferson back to within a score, again, with his touchdown run from the 3. When Atha recovered the onside attempt, Smith scored his touchdown on the fourth play of the drive when the fumble popped right back in his hands and a wide-open lane to the end zone for North Hall.
“That’s just how we planned that play out,” Smith said of his touchdown run with a grin.Down 41-27, Jefferson would add one more touchdown with Shirreffs’ 21-yard touchdown strike to T.J. Skelton, his second touchdown catch of the game.
In the first quarter, Skelton caught a 30-yard pass from Shirreffs, who spent most of the night under pressure from the Trojans defense.
Hall said only scoring one touchdown off of three North Hall turnovers was a big difference in the game, but still feels that playing such a tough non-region opponent will pay off in the long run.
“I’m still glad we played this game because it’s great for our kids to play in such a big-game atmosphere like we always have against North Hall,” said Hall. “You just have to tip your hat to North Hall; they played a great game.”
On Sept. 27, Jefferson opens Region 8-AA play against Greene County at Memorial Stadium in Jefferson.
Dragons 49 - Jackson County 0
JEFFERSON 49, JACKSON COUNTY 0: At Jefferson, Isaiah Blake rushed for three touchdowns in the second quarter to lead the Dragons, ranked No. 4 in Class AA.
After T.J. Skelton caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Evan Shirreffs and Doug Giles kicked a 33-yard field goal in the first quarter, Blake went to work, with touchdown runs of 14, 2 and 8 yards in the second quarter. Giles added a 34-yard field goal to make it 32-0 at the half.
Tristen Jackson accounted for the Dragons’ only score in the third quarter on a 34-yard run.
Austin Pankevich kicked a 45-yard field goal and Blake Wright rushed in from 5 yards out in the fourth quarter to complete Jefferson’s scoring.
Dragons 49 - Jackson County 0
Tristen Jackson and Isaiah Blake combined for 214 rushing yards and four touchdowns as the Jefferson High School Dragons shutout the Jackson County Comprehensive High School Panthers 49-0.
“I thought they ran hard,” said Jefferson head coach Ben Hall about Jackson and Blake. “I was proud of the guys up front and Jackson County did a good job of giving us different looks.”
Jefferson improves to 6-0 all time against their cross-town rivals. This win also extends the defending AA State Champions winning streak to 16.
After passing the ball over 30 times last week, Evan Shirreffs only attempted 16 passes against the Panthers. However, he was just as effective, completing eight of those passes for 137 yards and a touchdown.
“He is such a composed kid for a first year starter,” said Hall. “He did a great job managing the game. He knew going in we were going to run the ball and when he got an opportunity to throw it he did a pretty good job.”
The defense topped off a great all around game for the Dragons by shutting out the Panthers high powered offense. Jefferson limited Jackson County to only 31 yards on the ground and 47 yards through the air with four turnovers.
“Our defense played well. Jackson County had some turnovers which helped us,” Hall said. “We played well up front, I thought we did a good job putting pressure on the quarterback and our secondary played well too.”
Jefferson took the ball to start the game and just five plays later they found the end zone on a 5-yard pass from Shirreffs to T.J. Skelton.
Jefferson’s next drive was cut short deep in Panther territory on their next possession, which set up a 33-yard field goal by Kade Bougher to make it a 9-0 score.
After making another stop, Jefferson took over from their 43-yard line and proceeded to run Jackson and Blake right at the Panther defense until Blake score on a 14-yard run to extend the lead to 15.
The Panthers ensuing possession ended with an interception and Jefferson took the ball from the Panther 17 following a penalty on the return. A couple runs by Jackson and Blake was enough to score a touchdown with Blake scoring from the 2-yard line.
The Dragons got the ball around midfield on their next possession and put the drive on the arm of Shirreffs as he completed 3 of 4 passes on the drive, including a 32-yard pass to Dalton Hill to put the Dragons at the nine. From there Blake scored his third touchdown of the game. The Dragons ended the first half with another field goal to take a 32-0 lead.
The third quarter was much of the same for Jefferson. Blake and Jackson added 54 yards and Jackson found the end zone to bring the score to 42-0. Jackson and Blake left the game after that drive with 15 carries each for 137 yards and 74 respectively.
The backups finished the game for Jefferson with Zach Boobas scoring a fourth quarter touchdown to make the game 49-0.
Dragons Roll Over Commerce 40 - 0
JEFFERSON — There’s a new Shirreffs in town.
This Shirreffs — Evan — isn’t his older brother, Bryant.
This Shirreffs, who led Jefferson to a 40-0 victory over archival Commerce on Friday, could not have made that more clear in his debut under center for the Dragons.
It helped that Shirreffs has been in Jefferson’s system since he was a freshman. It helped that his center, Jordan Tyler, took snaps with him throughout play on the junior varsity squad. It helped that Jefferson’s first-year coach, Ben Hall, schemed the Dragons’ offense around Shirreffs’ skill set as a pure pocket passer.
All of that showed as Shirreffs completed 23 of 33 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 51 yards and a touchdown, which came on a 46-yard scamper.
“We wanted to keep him settled down,” Hall said. “We didn’t want to put him in a position where we’re asking him to do too much. We didn’t want him to feel too much pressure. We were under neath and screen games and trying to build some confidence. He’s only going to get better as the season goes.”
There was some rust that needed knocking off. There was a level of comfort that Shirreffs needed to establish. But after a bad snap on the second play of the game and a couple penalties in Jefferson’s first offensive series made, the quarterback went on to complete nine of his first 10 passes.
“It was definitely the nerves. We shook those off,” said running back Tristen Jackson who caught four passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns.
Shirreffs had some help from his deep receiving corps — Jackson turned 5-yard completions into 48- and-75-yard touchdowns in the first half — and good protection from his offensive line.
“The screen plays were working well,” Shirreffs said. “Linebackers, defensive backs were dropping back, so we found a way to hit short passes for big gains. We’ve been working on that a lot.”
Commerce had some ball-security issues, coughing up the ball seven times, one of which resulted in a turnover. And Jefferson’s defense held the Tigers to just more than 100 yards of offense.
“We came out all throughout the week and we wanted a shutout,” Jefferson cornerback Hanon Price said. “I think we brought it to them and were real physical.”
In the post-game huddle, Tyler gave Hall the game ball as he celebrated his first win as head coach. Fitting as former head coach T. McFerrin, who coached the Dragons to last season’s Class AA state title, was in the stands for the victory.
“Well, obviously get the first win under the belt is such a relief,” Hall said. “The kids played hard. We started off a little shaky. We have a lot of mistakes to correct. We’ve got to get to work on Monday. We got a tough schedule ahead. That was the first step in the season.”
J — Tristen Jackson 48-yard pass from Even Shirreffs (Douglas Giles kick), 00:00
J — Dalton Hill 24-yard pass from Shirreffs (Douglas Giles kick), 7:09
J — Tristen Jackson 75-yard pass from Shirreffs (kick failed), 2:56
J — Shirreffs 46-yard run (Douglas Giles kick), 7:08
J — Tristen Jackson 20-yard pass form Shirreffs (Douglas Giles kick), 3:36
J — Isaiah Williams 3-yard run (kick failed), :24
SCORE BY QUARTER
Jefferson — 7-13-20-0
Commerce — 0-0-0-0
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Evan Shirreffs. The Jefferson quarterback made his first start under center for the Dragons and did not disappoint. More of a pure passer than his older brother, Bryant, who led the Dragons to the 2012 Class AA state title, Shirreffs showed off his arm and dissecting the Commerce secondary.
STAT OF THE GAME: Shirreffs completed nearly 70 percent of his passes in his first high school start.
WHAT IT MEANS: This is as big a rivalry game as there is in Northeast Georgia, so bragging rights and starting the season off with a win was what was at stake. The Dragons redeem themselves from last year’s 22-7 loss.
RECORDS: Jefferson (1-0), Commerce (0-1).