JEFFERSON DRAGONS 2016 GAME BY GAME RESULTS
Jefferson Dragons Open season with Big Win over Discovery 48 - 0
Jefferson High School set an example for a new school in an overwhelming fashion Friday night. The Dragons (1-0) defeated Discovery High School 48-0 on the road in Discovery’s first varsity football game of the school’s existence.
Jefferson taught Discovery (0-1) the importance of limiting mistakes and winning the field position battle. The Dragons only had three penalties for 35 yards compared to the Titans seven for 55 yards. The Dragons did fumble twice but Discovery threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles. Jefferson also started around midfield or on Discovery’s side of the 50-yard line on 11 of their 12 possessions. The one time they had bad starting field position came when Alex Mason intercepted a pass on the 3-yard line. “That’s what we preach all the time, to focus for 48 minutes, play a disciplined game and I think we did that tonight for the most part,” said head coach Ben Hall, whose program has now won four-straight season openers.
Colby Wood didn’t waste any time scoring his first touchdown in 2016. After Zack Boobas returned a kickoff to the Dragons' 49-yard line, Wood took off on a 41-yard run. Only a minute into the game Jefferson led 7-0. Jefferson's defense forced an almost equally fast three-and-out on their first stand. Discovery’s punter mishandled a snap and he was tackled at the Titans 13-yard line. But Jefferson was unable to move the ball and they settled for a 27-yard field goal by Hayden Kilgore. Jefferson continued to take advantage of great field position for the rest of the first half. Wood scored on a 34-yard run after the Dragons started on the Titans 46-yard line. Kilgore made a 28-yard field goal to end a drive that began on the Dragon’s 42-yard line. Bryce Moore connected with Wood on an 8-yard touchdown pass a few plays after the Dragons took over on the Titans 39-yard line. The Titans messed up on another punt attempt on their next possession. This time the ball flew over the punter’s head and Zac Corbin beat him to the ball to recover it in the endzone. That gave Jefferson a 34-0 lead that they would take into halftime.
Discovery made a quarterback change midway through the second quarter which sparked their only good drive of the first half. Kaleb Cook replaced Alexander Drazic and led the Titans all the way to the Dragons 9-yard line. But Jefferson crushed an option run for a loss back to the 17-yard line, and Mason’s interception came on the following play.
The Dragons ended the first half on a pass-happy drive from Discovery’s 45-yard line. Moore completed a pair of passes to Wood and another to Sammy Elegreet to drive to the 3-yard line. But Moore fumbled trying to score a touchdown with 13 seconds left, keeping Jefferson out of the endzone.
“They have an athletic secondary and they were giving us some man coverage,” Hall said. “We saw it as an opportunity to work on some things against press-man, that was the idea there.”
With starters being phased out, Jefferson only scored on two possessions in the second half. When it looked like Discovery’s punter had planted the Dragons deep in their own territory, Wood returned the punt from the 11-yard line all the way to the Titans 22-yard line. Boobas scored on the next play to extend the lead to 41-0. Kade McNally added the cherry on top halfway through the fourth quarter when he scored from a yard out a play after he ran for 25 yards.
Wood picked up where he left off last season with 120 yards on only 13 carries with two touchdowns. He added three catches for 50 yards with one touchdown, and a 67-yard punt return.
“We just wanted to get what we need out of him and to protect him,” Hall said.
Wood added, “I couldn’t do anything without my linemen with their great blocking opening up huge holes.”
Moore completed seven of his 16 pass attempts for 123 yards and one touchdown.
Jefferson’s defense held Cook and Drazic to 82 yards on 11 completions out of 31 attempts with three interceptions.
Jefferson Dragons Run past Discovery 48 - 0
LAWRENCEVILLE — Unfazed by the enthusiasm surrounding Discovery’s first varsity football game, the visiting Jefferson Dragons scored six times in the first half and easily defeated the Titans 48-0 Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Jefferson junior running back Colby Wood quickly put a damper on the historic event, scoring on touchdown runs of 34 and 41 yards in the game’s first nine minutes. Wood rushed for 120 yards on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns for the Dragons. After the first of two field goals by Hayden Kilgore, Wood scored again early in the second period on a 13-yard TD pass from quarterback Bryce Moore. The visiting Dragons scored 17 points in each of the first two quarters, putting the game away by halftime.
“We played hard, but we made too many mistakes and they scored a lot of points off of our mistakes,” Discovery head coach Efrem Hill said. “Of the 60 players that suited up tonight, 55 were playing for the first time on a Friday night. It was exciting for them, but our inexperience made it difficult to match up with such a good team.”
Hill was pleased with his team’s effort in the second half, yielding only two TDs. “They didn’t drive the ball on us in the second half, so we made some noticeable improvement on defense,” Hill said. Discovery offense failed to move the ball consistently throughout the game, and after quickly falling in the first half, turned to sophomore quarterback Alexander Drazic to generate some offense. Drazic was harassed by Jefferson’ pass rush for much of the first half, but completed 5 of 18 passes for 41 yards in the first half. The home team Titans mounted its first serious drive late in the second quarter after trailing 34-0. An 8-yard completion to Jalen Stephens helped Discovery cross the 50-yard line for the first time in the game, and 12-yard Drazic run moved the ball to the Jefferson 35. Then Stephens had the Titans’ biggest play of the night, a 27-yard run to the Jefferson 8 giving them first and goal. But after Stephens was dropped for a 9 yard loss, Drazic was intercepted at the Jefferson 2, ending the threat. After Drazic threw his second interception in the middle of third quarter, he was replaced at quarterback by junior Kaleb Cook. Starting on his own 45 after a Jefferson fumble, Cook completed three straight passes and moved the ball to the Jefferson 30. But after a long pass in the end zone was just beyond the reach of Zaheem Brooks, Cook was tackled for a loss and fumbled, and the ball was recovered by Jefferson. Drazik finished the night 7 of 24 for 46 yards and two interceptions while Cook completed 4 of 6 for 37 yards and one interception. Stephens led all Discovery rushers with 33 yards on seven carries.
Jefferson 48, Discovery 0
Jefferson 17 17 7 7 - 48 Discovery 0 0 0 0 - 0
FIRST QUARTER Jefferson – Colby Wood 41 run (Hayden Kilgore kick) 11:00
Jefferson – Kilgore 26 FG – 7:23
Jefferson – Wood 34 run (Kilgore kick) 3:08
Jefferson – Kilgore 28 FG 11:15
Jefferson – Bryce Moore 13 pass to Wood 8:38
Jefferson – Zac Corbin recovers punt snap in end zone (Kilgore kick)
7:06 THIRD QUARTER
Jefferson – Zach Boobas 21 run (Kilgore kick) 9:42
FOURTH QUARTER Jefferson: Cade McNalley 4 run (Kilgore kick) 5:44
Jefferson moves to #3 in class 4A. Class AAAA - August 22, 2016
2. Woodward Academy
4. Blessed Trinity
7. Sandy Creek
8. Mary Persons
9. St. Pius
Jefferson 38, Riverwood 14: Dragons dominate Class 5A foe on rainy night.
By Kyle Funderburk
An 80 minute rain delay led to a sloppy game, but it didn’t dampen Jefferson’s domination. Jefferson (2-0) blew out Class 5A Riverwood 38-14 Friday night behind 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns by Colby Wood and 153 yards by Zach Boobas. But the game was still sloppy. Jefferson had 10 penalties for 90 yards, although 70 of them were in the first half.
Jonathan Paolozzi was ejected along with a Riverwood player on offsetting personal fouls.
Riverwood (0-1) on the other hand 13 penalties for 110 yards and they didn’t clean up in the second half. One penalty occurred when their running back Reese White began celebrating before he scored on an 80-yard touchdown run. That penalty negated the touchdown.
“I’m glad to get the win after the weather delay that lasted for over an hour and we came out here and ran the football just like we wanted to,” said head coach Ben Hall. “We basically exerted our will on that bunch and I’m proud of our kids for winning the ball game.” “I think a lot of those flags happened because of what was happening on the scoreboard and that’s unfortunate,” Hall said.
Jefferson scored on all but two of their eight possessions.
They opened the game with a 50-yard drive consisting exclusively of handoffs to Wood. He ended the drive with a 2-yard touchdown. Zack Boobas carried most of the load on Jefferson’s next possession and he ended another 50-yard drive with a two yard run. The Dragon run game wasn’t slowed down on their next drive, Boobas ended that drive with a 7-yard run to give Jefferson a quick 21-0 lead.
After Riverwood’s punter dropped a snap and was tackled at the 20-yard line, Hayden Kilgore kicked a 36-yard field goal to send Jefferson into halftime leading 24-0.
Wood ended his night on Jefferson’s first possession of the second half with a 51-yard touchdown run and then a powerful 39-yard punt return that set up a 12-yard touchdown by Justin Cole.
The Raiders finally scored on the ensuing drive, but it began with the whipped out 80-yard touchdown run because of a premature celebration. The penalty pushed them back to the Dragons 22-yard line, but then Brennan Suttle scored on a 15-yard run three plays later.
Alex Mason and Boobas were both injured on the 80-yard play. Boobas was only bruised but Mason took a foot to the head lunging out of a tackle. He may have a concussion.
Riverwood's last possession covered 65 yards and was capped by a 2-yard run by Arthur Burrell.
Bryce Moore only needed to throw two passes in the game, but he completed both for 17 yards.
Thomson 42, Jefferson 20: Bulldogs use big plays to pull away late from Dragons
Ben Munro Saturday, September 3. 2016
Thomson seized a top-10 showdown at Jefferson Memorial Stadium with some late-game fireworks. The visiting Bulldogs (3-0), ranked no. 4 in Class AAAA, had two special teams touchdowns and a 50-yard fumble return for a score all in the fourth quarter in a 42-20 victory over the third-ranked Dragons (2-1).
“It was a hard fought game,” Jefferson fullback Justin Cole said. “We’ve just got to learn from it. We just made too many special teams mistakes, and we’ve just got to battle back.”
This was Jefferson’s first non-region regular season loss since falling to North Hall 41-34 in 2013, but coach Ben Hall wasn’t discouraged afterwards. “I just told them I’m proud of them,” he said. “We went toe-to-toe with a really good team, and they fought for four quarters … We fought them to the end. We emptied our arsenal on them.”
Thomson running back Mike Thomas ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns. He racked up 100 yards rushing in the first half alone, including a 55-yard jaunt to set up a score.
Jefferson’s Zack Boobas rushed for 71 yards on 14 carries and pulled the Dragons to within eight points — 28-20 — with a 7-yard touchdown with 4:54 left in the game. But Jefferson’s subsequent onside kick attempt backfired, as the Bulldogs scooped it and scored to go up 35-20, putting the game out of reach.
Dragon quarterback Bryce Moore was blinded sided on Jefferson’s next drive, resulting in a fumble, which Zack Johnson picked up and returned 50 yards for a touchdown for the final margin of victory.
“They’re a great team,” Hall said. “They did a great job of causing turnovers … and capitalizing on them.”
Moore was 10-of-16 passing for a season-high 176 yards.
Colby Wood was limited to 56 yards rushing and a touchdown on 19 carries but racked up 116 receiving yards on seven catches, including a 50-yarder.
Jefferson trailed 14-3 at the half after Thomas scored on a 3-yard run and set up another touchdown with his 55-yard run to the Dragon 12. Bubba Murray finished off that drive with a 12-yard scoring run.
In between those two touchdowns, Jefferson blocked a Thomson punt and recovered the ball on the Bulldog 6. The Dragons, however, were unable to punch the ball in and settled for a 20-yard field goal from Hayden Kilgore, who was 2-for-3 on the night.
“We block a punt early and we recover the ball on the 6-yard line — you’d like to punch that in,” Hall said. “You’d like to punch it in, and we were unable to.”
In the third quarter, freshman Colby Clark’s first-career interception set up a 1-yard touchdown from Wood, but Thomas answered with a 1-yard score with 2:04 left in the period to put Thomson up 21-10.
Kilgore kept Jefferson within striking distance in the fourth quarter with a 36-yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-13, but Christian Tutt, a highly-prized college recruit, answered with a 95-yard kick off return to push the lead back out to 28-13.
“It’s great to have a test like this (in) week three,” Hall said. “We were able to get out of here injury free with the exception of a few cramps. I think we’re a little bit tougher than we were when we started this game 48 minutes ago.” Hall also praised the resilience of his squad in this loss. “They had every opportunity to fold their tent — we scored and then they scored on a big play — that could let the air out of most people’s sails,” he said. “Our guys, they just gritted their teeth and fought to the end. Our team is a special group. I have a feeling we’re going to go a long way. I think we’re galvanized now, facing a team like this, and I think we’re going to have great focus in our off week and we’re going to make corrections and we’re going to try to get better each and every day.”
NOTES: Clark, making his first start, finished 11 tackles, while Boobas finished with 10.
Former Jefferson Football Star Bryant Shirreffs Still Trying To Figure It Out At UConn
“There's this one show, “Life Below Zero,” about a guy who lives in Northern Alaska,” Shirreffs said. “He just decided to dismiss himself from society. Completely self-sufficient and he loves it. He has it all figured out.”
Shirreffs, like most people, is working toward that – not dismissing himself from society, but figuring it all out. He's a deep thinker who says he'd like to branch out more, brand himself better during a second go-around in the UConn football spotlight, the latest player trying to offer stability to the offense's most important position. The search has essentially been going on since the days of Dan Orlovsky. With running comes risk and despite quarterback Bryant Shirreffs' ability (503 yards on 154 carries last season), UConn coaches are going to try and keep him in the pocket more for his own good. (John Minchillo / AP)
Last season, Shirreffs was 168 of 279 for 2,078 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 503 yards on 154 carries, often times keeping drives alive with his legs, yet sometimes creating more danger for himself and the team by unnecessarily prolonging plays or making a high-risk decision. He was knocked out of a victory over Houston, missed the regular season finale the following week at Temple and returned for the St. Petersburg Bowl loss to Marshall, when his wrist was broken.
“It was a crazy year for me,” Shirreffs said. “It's molded me as a football player but also as a person, the ups and downs and how to manage certain circumstances, and just reacting to situations. You've just got to try to play your cards right. As much as a positive as it was, we know we could have done better. I know I could have done things that would have led to more wins.” UConn finished 6-7, returning to a bowl game for the first time in five years after going 2-10 in Diaco's debut season. “And those are definitely strides,” Shirreffs said. “Still, 6-7 is a losing season. That leaves a bitter taste.
I have a role that, if I carry out, the team will be successful. But if I try to do something that's not my role, or if I try to do too much, that's when negative things happen. The coaches have been clear in giving everyone their role and the formula for winning. So that's something I really learned and have been working on.”
Because of the wrist injury, Shirreffs was largely inactive for about two months after the season, time spent healing more than that specific injury. He said he had never felt as “banged up” as he did coming out of last season. Rest did wonders for his entire body, and his mind. He gained weight to get over 220 pounds, and that will help with self-preservation because 10 pounds makes a big difference in how hits are absorbed. And he thought a lot about role and responsibility.
It was clear he and Diaco had discussed this, and were on the same page, when Diaco shared his thoughts on the quarterback position during the offseason. Diaco started by saying there was an open competition, praising Garrett Anderson for a couple of weeks before declaring Shirreffs as the clear No. 1. Diaco mentioned on a few occasions the quarterback needing to make “the kind of decisions to help the team win, not necessarily what the quarterback thinks he should do from the quarterback manual.” Diaco also said, “We have a recipe for putting the game together that we believe in. The quarterback needs to fit that.” And, Diaco added, the quarterback should not “jam the ball in there with his arm or his leg if it's opposite of what we need. The person who takes that next step the fastest is who will get an opportunity to play more.”
There's no question who the UConn quarterback is right now, which is the Diaco analysis and complement that matters most. Shirreffs, who considered attending Yale before choosing N.C. State, then transferred to UConn after again considering Yale, said it is a blessing to have Diaco in his life.
The quarterback sees a lot of himself in the coach. “He's a better person than me,” Diaco said. “At his age , compare the two of us, I wish I was like him. I'd have a lot less regrets.” What regrets? “Oh, no,” Diaco said. “Those are mine. The same ones you have.”
Asked about Shirreffs' personality, Diaco said, “He's got kind of an old-world insightfulness, very compassionate and thoughtful for other people. Great teammate, I think he'd be a great classmate. Total package — beautiful kid, big heart, big faith, smart and a heck of an athlete.”
The UConn season opens Thursday at home against Maine and then takes UConn to Navy, his grandfather's alma mater. John “Jack” Shirreffs, a member of Navy's 1958 Cotton Bowl team, attended last season's UConn-Navy game at Rentschler Field, a 28-18 Midshipmen victory. It was the last time Bryant saw his grandfather, who died about five months later. Jack Shirreffs spent a lot of time during his retirement years writing newsletters containing football updates about Bryant and younger brother Evan, and sending them to family members and friends. This season, Sept. 10 at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, many of Jack Shirreffs' Navy buddies will attend the game. So will Bryant's father, also John Shirreffs, who played at Virginia in the 1980s. Virginia is UConn's Week 3 opponent, at home.
Bryant's father will be there that day, too. “Bryant won a state championship with a team of a lot of overachievers,” John Shirreffs said. “This [UConn] team reminds me of that. … He may not be the greatest football player that ever lived, but he's going to give you 100 percent every play. That's good and bad. The bad is what happened in Houston — third and 12, throw the ball away. He's changing and the beauty of that — not just Bryant, but all kids that age — they're sponges. He's learning what life is about, his likes and dislikes. And the more time he's around educators — and coaches are part of that educator package — he's going to grow as a person and he's getting closer and closer to the man that he will be. Bryant kind of physically matured at 17, 18 years of age. It's the mental part of the game and the mental part of everyday life. He's got his eyes wide open. He isn't set in, this is who I am. He recognizes there is something to learn every day.”
Evan Shirreffs, a redshirt freshman quarterback at Miami, is similar to Bryant in that he is a standout student. Bryant made the All-ACC academic team in his one year at N.C. State and has made the All-AAC academic team the past two years. Evan was valedictorian of his high school class.
Beyond that, John Shirreffs said, they're direct opposites. Evan is calculated, sometimes hyper, even a goofball. Both are extremely serious about football, but where Evan is, as their father joked, “OCD” and hyper-focused on detail, Bryant analyzes things differently. He watches a lot of film like any player, but he isn't replaying every miscalculation or perfect pass from last season. He's trying to absorb what the whole experience was about. He's trying to grow from it – on and off the field – trusting that he'll benefit from increased knowledge.
“I've always had a vision for myself,” Bryant said. “I truly believe things in the universe will help you if you really want something or if you're willing to do anything for it. Last spring, I could tell I had nerves. It was more about what I was doing and trying to win the job. Now, I don't have to think about what I'm doing. I can think about where everyone is going to be and what the defense is doing. So I'm just reacting to variables. The game has slowed down for me and I try to keep my heart rate as low as possible, just through breathing. It just becomes so relaxed. I don't hear anything out there. It's just like, when you're in the zone, it's like playing an instrument. You're very relaxed and just doing your job.”
After a 42-20 loss to Thomson on Friday, there was a little bit of disappointment in Jefferson. But there was a lot more hope.
“This game was a learning game,” Jefferson defensive end Deshon Lester said. “Nothing against the Thomson team. They’re a great team. They beat us. They beat us fair tonight. They out-executed, outplayed us, out-toughed us tonight.”
Jefferson (2-1) entered the game ranked third in Class 4A. Thomson (3-0) was ranked fourth.
Mistakes plagued the Dragons throughout the game, culminating in a 14-0 run for Thomson in the game’s final minutes.
“We made a bunch of really small mistakes that cost us really big plays,” Jefferson safety and running back Zack Boobas said.
But they kept fighting, even after giving up a kickoff return for a touchdown and having an onside kick attempt and a late fumble returned for scores. They also escaped without major injuries, a plus for a game that Jefferson coach Ben Hall told his team was a “third-round type battle (in) week 3” coming into the contest.
“They gritted their teeth and fought until the end,” Hall said. “This is a special group. I have a feeling we’re going to go a long way. We’re galvanized by this and we’re going to have a great focus in our off week and make corrections.”
Jefferson is off this week before traveling to Flowery Branch Sept. 16.
They also have plenty of time to fix errors before region play begins – that won’t start for Region 8-4A until Sept. 30.
The offensive line and quarterback play will be among the off-week areas of focus. They’ll also tweak some things on defense, where they have athletes competing outside of their natural positions.
In the scope of the season, the belief from Hall and Lester is that the loss can help more than it hurts.
“It was great to have a test like this Week 3,” Hall said. “...I think we’re a little bit tougher than we were when we started this game 48 minutes ago.”
Class AAAA Rankings as of 9 - 7 - 19
School Points Last Week
(First place votes in parentheses)
1. Cartersville (15) 150 1
2. Thomson 127 4
3. Blessed Trinity 106 2
4. Woodward Academy 100 5
5. Mary Persons 78 7
6. Sandy Creek 75 8
7. Jefferson 62 3 .
8. Marist 52 9
9. Ridgeland 31 10
10. Burke Country 26 NR
Jefferson 33, Flowery Branch 0: Dragons dominate on both sides of the ball in shutout win Saturday, September 17. 2016
Offensively and defensively, Jefferson had all the answers Friday night against Flowery Branch.
The Dragons defeated the Falcons 33-0 with 121 rushing yards by Colby Wood and 95 yards of total offense from freshman quarterback Colby Clark.
Their defense only allowed 78 passing yards and -13 rushing yards, and they forced two interceptions and two fumbles.
“We were able to run the ball at will at times, I’m proud of the effort of our offensive line, our fullback and our freshman quarterback who played here tonight,” said head coach Ben Hall. About the turnovers Hall said “we’ve been preaching that all season, we haven’t really caused as many as we would like and in the past we have hung our hat on forcing turnovers, and our defense took advantage of some opportunities tonight.”
Jefferson (3-1, 0-0) also controlled field position by starting between the 40-yard lines on seven of their nine possessions. The other two started at their own 37 and 34-yard lines.
Flowery Branch (1-3, 0-0) on the other hand started eight of their drives at or behind the 20-yard line.
“That’s just my philosophy, I want to control the line of scrimmage and I want to play the field position game,” Hall said. “Once we have the ball at midfield we’re going to keep starting there if we can.”
Clark got his first career start replacing Bryce Moore who started all of last season and the Dragons first three games this year. He ran for 50 yards and passed for 45 yards.
“We have three talented quarterbacks ... we’re just looking for a little more consistency, I felt like he offered us a bit more in the run game, overall he played a heck of a game tonight” Hall said. “He’s a strong runner he’s not a typical freshman, he got out of the pocket tonight and was able to move the chains.”
Jefferson began the game with a run-heavy drive that devoured half of the first quarter. But a false start on a first down and a sack on third down forced Hayden Kilgore to kick a 38-yard field goal which he converted to give the Dragons an early 3-0 lead.
Their next possession went by a lot quicker but it ended with an 11-yard touchdown run by Wood after just two minutes with the ball.
Their next drive lasted just as long and once again concluded with a touchdown by Wood, this one from 17 yards out. Those two quick drives gave Jefferson a 17-0 lead.
The Dragons' fourth possession ended with a turnover on downs but the Falcons fumbled two plays later giving the ball away at midfield. Clark took full advantage of the field position and a few plays later connected with Sammy Elegreet on a 27-yard strike with only seven seconds until halftime. Jefferson then lead 24-0.
Their opening drive of the second half ended after just three stagnant plays, but Zack Boobas’s punt bounced off the leg of Falcon return man Fred Johnson an was recovered by Jefferson at the 14-yard line. This rebooted possession also ended after three plays but that third one was a 5-yard touchdown run by Boobas.
Jefferson’s lead extended to 31-0.
Their final score of the night didn’t require a Dragon to be around the ball. Flowery Branch lined up for a punt out of their own endzone, but the snap sailed over the punters head for a safety. Jefferson led 33-0 late in the third quarter.
Worth the wait: Jefferson pulls out victory in first-ever meeting with Gainesville
Posted by Ben Munro Saturday, September 24. 2016
Jefferson and Gainesville might want to do this more often. The Dragons (4-1) raced out to a 17-0 lead and held on to win a thriller, 31-28, at home Friday over Gainesville (2-2) in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
The game ended with Jefferson defensive back Zac Corbin batting down a D.J. Irons pass into the end zone to preserve the victory.
“I was just like, ‘Thank you, God,” said Colby Wood, who was also in on the coverage during the play. “I was so scared that he (the Gainesville receiver) was going to catch it … I’m just so thankful for my team because we have each other’s back and it showed there.”
The matchup between this pair of Northeast Georgia powers lived up to its lofty billing. The hype began as soon as the schedules were released and the chatter only intensified after a meeting during the summer in 7-on-7 competition.
“We had this game circled, and we just couldn’t wait to get out here,” senior lineman Caleb Chandler said. “I’m just so glad we pulled out a victory.”
Jefferson coach Ben Hall noted that a number of players were pressed into two-way duty Friday. “What you have to understand is that we had guys like Will Kellum, Dantae Wilson, Caleb Chandler — those guys were battling on both sides of the ball, and they were gassed, and they dug down and they finished this game,” Hall said.
Wood, a 2,000-yard rusher from a year ago, turned out his best game so far this season rushing 24 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns, including a 57-yarder in the first quarter.
Jefferson finished with 356 yards rushing.
“Colby had a great night … He was able to pop that one (on the first drive),” Hall said.
Freshman Colby Clark, who debuted at quarterback last week in Jefferson’s 33-0 win over Flowery Branch, made his second start under center. He ran 14 times for 80 yards. Clark attempted just three passes, completing two for nine yards.
“It’s a situation where we’re protecting him with play calling, but he’s doing everything we’re asking him to do and he’s only going to get better,” Hall said.
Jefferson jumped out to a 17-0 lead behind first-quarter touchdowns from Wood (his 57 yarder) and Zack Boobas (six yards) and a 26-yard field goal from Hayden Kilgore in the second quarter. From there, the Dragons and Red Elephants traded points — and momentum.
Irons put Gainesville on the board with a 6-yard touchdown run at the 2:05 mark in the second quarter then and threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jim Barnett with 10:10 left in the third quarter, cutting Jefferson’s lead to 17-13.
The Dragons continued to run the ball, though, as Wood responded with his second touchdown of the night — a 13-yarder with 3:46 left in the third quarter to push the lead back out to 24-13.
“We were battling in the trenches, and the line just came in clutch and had good blocks for me so I could run through,” Wood said.
Gainesville pulled within four points, again, with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Irons to Martavious Davis with 58 seconds left in the third quarter.
But Boobas answered with another touchdown, diving for the pylon to cap a six-yard run and give the Dragons a 31-20 lead with 10:12 left in the game. Boobas finished with 65 yards on 11 carries.
The Red Elephants cut the lead to three with 6:22 left in the game with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Irons to Jeff Barnett and a two-point conversion.
Jefferson, though failing to generate any points on its final possession, ate over five minutes of clock by leaning on Wood and the Dragons’ offensive line. Jefferson moved the ball to the Gainesville 27 before turning the ball over on downs.
The Red Elephants were left with just 1:10 on the clock with no timeouts.
“That’s what we do,” Chandler said. “We like to pound the ball. We like to run time, and we like to get the defense tired.”
Gainesville, on its final drive, moved to the Jefferson 35 with two seconds remaining. On the last play, Irons heaved the ball toward the right front corner of the end zone where it was swatted down as time expired and a Dragon celebration ensued.
Hall said he believes the experience his team gained in a 42-20 loss to second-ranked Thomson in week three aided it in crunch time on Friday night.
“There’s no doubt,” Hall said. “Our guys had been there and done that with Thomson, and they knew they were going to have to buckle down and gut it out to win the ball game.”
Wood called this a character-building win for the Dragons, who open region play with Madison County next Friday.
“We’re going to keep improving and growing as a team,” he said. “We’ve still got stuff to work on and improving on. I think it was a big test for the secondary and I’m glad we pulled it out.”
Week 7 Football Rankings: Class AAAA
3. Sandy Creek
4. Woodward Academy
5. Jefferson (4-1) Beat Gainesville 31-28. Colby Wood rushed for 208 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries. Jefferson had 332 yards rushing on 53 carries and attempted just three passes with freshman QB Colby Clark, who completed two for seven yards. Jefferson jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first half and never trailed. Next: Friday at Madison County (5-0)
7. Blessed Trinity
8. Mary Persons
9. Burke County
Jefferson 28 - Madison County 7
October 7, 2016
DANIELSVILLE — Jefferson's punishing run game proved too much for Madison County, as the Dragons put up three rushing touchdowns to hand the Red Raiders their first loss of the season, 28-7 on Friday in Danielsville.
Jefferson went through the air to get its first score, as Colby Clark hooked up with Chaz Evans for a 51-yard touchdown pass.
Clark went on to add an 11-yard touchdown run, while Colby Wood (3 yards) and Zack Boobas (1 yard) chipped in with rushing scores.
Boobas finished with 108 yards rushing and 11 tackles on defense. Wood added 104 yards in 16 carries.
Jefferson (5-1, 1-0 Region 8-AAAA) will take a bye next week and face North Oconee on Oct. 14.
Jefferson 42, North Oconee 14
Friday, October 14, 2016
At Bogart, Colby Clark ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns and Colby Wood rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns as the Dragons – ranked No. 4 in Class AAAA, pounded the winless Titans. Wood’s first touchdown came in the first quarter on a 34-yard run and he scored again in the second quarter on a 41-yard rush. Clark scored on a 9-yard run in the first quarter and a 3-yard run in the third quarter. Zack Boobas accounted for two more scores, rushing in from the 1 and reaching the end zone from the 5, both in the second quarter. North Oconee got two second-half touchdowns from Jermaine Browner as he scored on an 8-yard run and grabbed a 10-yard touchdown pass. Jefferson (6-1, 2-0) will host St. Pius X at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Jefferson 24, St. Pius 0
Dragon defense stuffs St. Pius
Posted by Ben Munro Friday, October 21. 2016
Jefferson’s defense ensured a happy homecoming. The Dragons (7-1, 3-0) shut out St. Pius and its triple-option attack 24-0 win Friday at Memorial Stadium, holding the Golden Lions (0-8, 0-3) to a mere 63 yards of total offense.
“Coach (Tom) Parker and his staff did a great job all week with the game plan and challenging our kids to play assignment football, and they played as disciplined as we could play,” coach Ben Hall said.
After giving up two first downs on St. Pius’ first possession, Jefferson allowed just one first down and 37 yards the rest of the way.
“We’ve been focusing all week since Monday just to read keys and everyone stick to their assignments,” said Zack Boobas, who led Jefferson with seven tackles.
With the Dragons playing suffocating defense, their offense was sufficient enough to earn the team’s fifth-straight victory.
Jefferson led 17-0 at the half after a Hayden Kilgore field goal and touchdown runs from quarterback Colby Clark of 10 yards and five yards. Colby Wood added a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Wood led Jefferson with 80 yards rushing on 19 carries. Clark added 77 yards on 14 carries.
The Dragons finished with 200 yards rushing against St. Pius’ stout defense.
Jefferson, however, turned the ball over twice.
“We’re going to improve there, but I’m proud of them,” Hall said. “It was a physical ball game. I think the kids agree now that this was the most physical team we’ve seen since Thomson. They played a physical ball game, and our kids responded well.”
Jefferson rotated quarterbacks with Clark going 2-for-6 through the air for 13 yards, and Bryce Moore throwing for 61 yards on 4-of-5 passing.
Clark, a freshman, played both ways Friday, starting at both quarterback and linebacker.
“Colby Clark played defensively at outside linebacker again, and did a fine job there, and Bryce came in and made some throws,” Hall said. “He took advantage of the opportunity. We’re going to keep both guys greased up and ready to go.”
St. Pius, though winless, came into this matchup a dangerous team. The Golden Lions, who won 10 games last year, nearly knocked off Oconee County last week.
Boobas said the Dragons were prepared. “We were super focused,” he said. “They probably have the hardest schedule in 4-A right now, playing some of the best teams. So the record didn’t matter. We knew they were a great team and they had great players. We had to be ready to come out and show what we had.”
Hall praised his team’s focus in this game against a traditional Atlanta-area power. “Our kids know the tradition behind that program,” Hall said. “They know it’s a storied program. They were going to play with a lot of pride and they were going to play a very physical ball game, so our kids prepared well this week mentally.”
Jefferson’s win sets up a battle of region unbeatens next week at Memorial Stadium as the Dragons host Stephens County (7-1, 3-0), which downed Oconee County 16-9 Friday.
Jefferson 35, Stephens Co. 7:
Dragons make statement with rout in key region matchup
Posted by Ben Munro Saturday, October 29. 2016
The Region 8-AAAA champion won’t be determined until next week, but Jefferson certainly looked the part Friday night. The fourth-ranked Dragons (8-1, 4-0) blasted ninth-ranked Stephens County 35-7 on Senior Night, dominating what was a much-anticipated battle between the co-leaders in Region 8-AAAA.
“We clicked just literally as a team at the right time and figured out what we actually can do,” said Jefferson running back/defensive back Zack Boobas. “With an atmosphere like this and your family surrounding you, the emotions are everywhere and you can’t help but play good.”
Jefferson will face Oconee County (7-2, 3-1) next Friday in Watkinsville for the region title.
Coach Ben Hall said his team is starting to round into form. “We’ve built on the last two weeks,” he said. “The last two weeks, we’ve felt like we’ve played our most complete games … We’ll build on this one and get ready for Oconee County.”
The Dragons raced out to a 21-0 halftime lead and led 35-0 with under two minutes left in the game when Stephens County (7-2, 3-1) scored its lone touchdown against Jefferson’s subs.
The Dragons finished with 333 yards of total offense. Running back Colby Wood accounted for three touchdowns, scoring on a 9-yard run and catching touchdown passes of 83 and 13 yards. Wood finished with 61 yards rushing on 15 attempts and 96 yards receiving on his two touchdown catches.
“It was fun to just be involved in both the running game and the passing game; it’s just amazing that God gave me the ability to run and catch,” said Wood, who also intercepted a pass on defense.
Freshman quarterback Colby Clark finished 4-of-7 for 124 yards with a pair of touchdowns, including the 83-yarder to Wood.
“As Colby Clark goes along, we’re going to put more on his plate,” Hall said. “And we were just taking advantage of some things we saw that they were giving us, and he completed some big passes tonight that helped loosen the box a little bit … They had nine in the box and he did a nice job of completing those balls.”
Clark added 82 yards rushing on 12 carries and a 13-yard touchdown.
Clark, who also plays defense, recorded seven tackles.
Jefferson’s secondary intercepted three passes, two of which set up touchdowns.
The Dragons limited Stephens County to 85 yards in the first half and 202 in the game.
“The defense played as one — everybody knew their assignments,” Boobas said. “I don’t think we had but a couple mental errors the entire night. We basically just played for the guy beside you and that gives you extra energy you didn’t even know you had.”
Defensive end Will Kellum said slowing down Stephens County required the Dragons’ best effort. “We played our best game by far tonight,” he said. “I’ve got to give some credit to the secondary because they did incredible. At first, they threw a couple good passes on them, and they got some yards. But then, they just came out and did their job and we got three turnovers.”
Jefferson’s defense set the tone early, backing up Stephens County deep inside its own territory on the Indians’ first possession.
A short punt set up the Dragons on Stephens County’s 31 yard line, and Wood found the end zone three plays later on his 9-yard run to put Jefferson up 7-0.
Then the Dragon defense came up with a key fourth-down stop at their 15-yard line in the second quarter. Jefferson’s offense responded two plays later when Clark connected with Wood along the right sideline for the 83-yard touchdown, putting the Dragons up 14-0.
Clark later threw a 13-yard touchdown to a wide-open Wood with 26 seconds left in the first half, putting the Dragons ahead 21-0. The touchdown was set up a by an interception and return from Zac Corbin to the Stephens County 30 yard line.
“That was one of the bigger plays in the game,” Hall said.
Clark scored on a 13-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter to give Jefferson a 28-0 lead.
Boobas added a fourth-quarter touchdown, running in from two yards out.
The win extended the Dragons’ dominance at Memorial Stadium. Jefferson has lost just two regular season home games in the last five years.
“Our kids love playing here,” Hall said. “They’ve grown up playing on this field, and it means a lot … and they defend their turf well. Now we’re going to have to shift gears and play well on the road next week against Oconee County.”
JEFFERSON | Stephens County got a bad case of the Colbys on Friday night.
Jefferson — ranked No. 4 in Class 4A — got plenty of offense from Colby Wood and Colby Clark Friday as the Dragons smacked Stephens County 35-7 in a key Region 8-4A game at Memorial Stadium.
The Dragons (8-1, 4-0) scored in the first quarter on an 8-yard pass from Clark to Wood.
In the second quarter, the two Colbys connected on an 83-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 with three minutes remaining and Clark put his team up 21-0 with 26 seconds left before halftime on a 13-yard pass to Wood.
In the third quarter, Clarke scored on a 13-yard keeper with 6:40 remaining, and Zack Boobas completed Jefferson’s scoring with a 2-yard rush at the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter.
Clark and Wood were also very present on defense as Clark — playing linebacker — recorded seven tackles, including one for lost yardage and Wood had one of three Dragon interceptions. Zac Corbin and Ethan Page also had interceptions for Jefferson.
Donte Wilson led the Dragons with 10 tackles (four for loss) and Boobas added eight tackles (one for loss). Jefferson recorded 15 tackles for lost yardage and held the Indians (7-2, 3-1) to 202 yards of offense.
Clark, playing quarterback, rushed 10 times for 82 yards and a touchdown and completed 4 of 7 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Wood rushed 15 times for 61 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Jefferson evened its all-time series with Stephens County at 3-3. The two teams met for the first time Friday since November 1955.
The Dragons will go for the region title at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Oconee County, which defeated Madison County 41-8. Stephens County will host North Oconee at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Jefferson 31 Oconee Co. 7
A region title – and some payback: Jefferson beats Oconee Co. to win 8-AAAA championship and avenge loss to Warriors
Posted by Ben Munro Saturday, November 5. 2016
Sure, there was scenario out there in which Jefferson didn’t have to win Friday to claim the region title. But for the Dragons, nothing less than a win – and a convincing one – would do. Jefferson got what it came for, thumping Oconee County 31-7 on the road to win the Region 8-AAAA championship in the program’s first year in Class AAAA.
“Coming into Region eight four-A, nobody believed in us,” Jefferson defensive tackle Dontae Wilson said. “We just wanted everybody to know that we’re here, and we come to win it all.”
The Dragons outscored the Warriors 17-0 in the second half in pulling away for the win. Colby Wood ran for 141 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
Colby Clark ran for 93 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
“We just didn’t feel like we could get the nail in the coffin in the first half,” coach Ben Hall said. “In the second half, they came back and battled hard to punch the ball in the end zone and played solid defense and won the ball game, and I’m proud of them.”
The Dragons prevailed on the same field where they’d lost 36-35 in two overtimes last year, costing them the Region 8-AAA title.
“We lost basically a championship game to them last year, and we came out here seeking revenge and got just what we were looking for,” Wilson said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling.” “We wanted to make a statement to Oconee County that we didn’t forget about last year,”
Jefferson lineman Caleb Chandler said. Had Jefferson lost and finished in a three-way tie with Oconee County and Stephens County for the region title, the championship would have been decided on point differential. The Dragons would have won the title with a loss of less than 10 points the Warriors, but they didn’t want this to come down to a matter of math.
“Yeah, we didn’t want it to be a three-way tie,” Chandler said. “We wanted to put it away early so we didn’t have to deal with any of that.”
Jefferson opened the game with a six-play scoring drive, capped by a 30-yard touchdown run from Clark, and found the end zone again on its third drive with a 28-yard scoring run from Wood to go up 14-0.
Oconee County, however, answered on its next play from scrimmage with a 79-yard touchdown run from Roques Dowdy late in the first quarter.
“You just kind of felt the momentum slipping,” Hall said.
But Jefferson’s defense helped turn the game early in the third quarter, recovering a fumble at the Oconee County 32. The Dragons cashed in with a 35-yard field goal from Hayden Kilgore -- who was also a perfect 4-of-4 on PATs -- to stretch the lead to 17-7.
“That’s a huge kick,” Hall said. “You realize it’s a two-score game, and then it made them feel like they had to press a little bit, I thought.”
The Dragons put the game away with fourth-quarter touchdowns from Clark and Boobas.
Clark scored from two yards out, with Jefferson facing a fourth-and-two, to put the Dragons up 24-7.
Boobas then knifed through the Oconee County defense on Jefferson’s next possession on a 14-yard scoring run.
The touchdown was set up by Wood, who intercepted a pass and returned the ball to the Warrior 26.
The Dragons, bolstered by the play of their offensive line, finished with 315 yards rushing.
“I feel like we played great,” Chandler said. “We’re just getting better and better every week. We’re just trying to make statements and set the tone up front like we always try to do.”
The region title is now the program’s third in the last five years.
“It feels great, especially this year after moving up in classification and not knowing what that’s going to bring,” said Hall, who won his second region title as a head coach. “Our program, our kids, our school, they’ve responded well to the move-up. To win the region title is a great thing in the first year in four-A.”
And the Dragons left Oconee County feeling much better than it did a year ago.
“Last year, we played our hearts out, we gave it everything we had, but we just fell short on the last play of the game in double overtime,” Wilson said. “We came out today and said we’re not going to play around. We’re going to hit them in the mouth and keep pushing until we have this game and we know we don’t have to go into overtime again.”
Football: Region champ Dragons ready for 1st round
Posted by MainStreetNews SPORTS Wednesday, November 9. 2016
While Jefferson’s first-round state playoff opponent, Pickens, is something of an unknown commodity — the programs haven’t met in 27 years — Dragon coach Ben Hall is confident in what his team will bring to the field Friday.
Fourth-ranked Jefferson (9-1) is riding a seven-game winning streak, has won its last five games by a combined score of 160-35 and secured the Region 8-AAAA title last Friday with a 31-7 win over Oconee County.
“I think we’re playing our best football at the right time,” Hall said.
Pickens, the no. 4 seed out of Region 6-AAAA, comes into this game riding some momentum, too, having won four of its last six contests. Pickens (whose mascot is also the Dragons) posted 40 or more points in two of its final four games and averaged 39.75 per contest in that span.
“You look at the results, and they score a lot of points,” Hall said.
The Dragons of Pickens feature a 6-6 quarterback, Tanner Brumby (1,446 yards passing).
His top targets are Zach Gross (391 yard receiving) and Trevon Hawkins (352 receiving).
Chris Pittman, who has run for 1,014 yards, is the primary ball carrier in the Pickens offense.
Hall expects Pickens — which defeated Region 6-AAAA champion Ridgeland during the regular season — to run a wide-open offense. “I anticipate them to look to spread us out and go to a lot of three and four and five wide (receiver) formations just trying to spread our defensive front out … They’ll probably be wide open offensively and throw it a lot.”
Jefferson will counter will its ground-heavy offensive attack, which averages 245.7 yards per game and has produced three runners with over 500 yards rushing this season — Colby Wood (1,111 yards), Colby Clark (559 yards) and Zack Boobas (529 yards).
The emergence of more ball carriers has taken the load off Wood, who averaged close to 27 carries a game in 2015. He’s averaging 17.3 this year — nearly 10 less carries per game. “Our goal was to spread it out a little bit offensively — spread the carries out — and not have Colby (Wood) be worn down by the time we get into the playoffs,” Hall said. “And we’re right where we want to be.”
Meanwhile, Jefferson’s defense continues to be a force, allowing just 11.9 points per contest this year and an average of just seven points a game over the last five games.
The winner of this game will face the winner of West Laurens and Luealla in the second round of the playoffs.
Jefferson, which has been a playoff team 16 out of the last 17 seasons, has a 10-3 record in the postseason since 2012.
“We are playing well, and our kids are focused,” Hall said. “They see the playoff bracket and opportunity in front of us, so they’re ready mentally. It’s a matter of getting up and doing it physically on Friday.”
••• Pickens at Jefferson •When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
•Where: Memorial Stadium (Jefferson)
•Records: Jefferson 9-1, Pickens 5-5
•Jefferson’s coach: Ben Hall (fourth year at Jefferson, 41-7; fourth year overall, 41-7)
•Pickens’ coach: Chris Parker (fifth season at Pickens, 32-20; ninth season overall, 58-37)
•Last week: Jefferson 31, Oconee Co. 7; Heritage-Ringgold 48, Pickens 35
•Series: Tied 2-2
•What else: This is the first meeting between the programs since 1989. Jefferson lost that game 17-6 …
The winner of this game will face the winner of Luella and West Laurens …
This is the first state playoff meeting between the two schools …
Pickens, whose mascot is also the Dragons, is the no. 4 seed out of Region 6-AAAA. It won four of its last six games to qualify for the playoffs …
Pickens is in its fifth year under coach Chris Parker, who guided the team to back-to-back 8-3 seasons in 2014 and 2015
... Jefferson beat Oconee County 31-7 last Friday to earn the school’s eighth region title and third in five years
… This is the fifth straight year Jefferson has hosted a first-round playoff game
… A win would give the Jefferson its fifth straight season of at least 10 wins. Jefferson is 55-8 over the last five seasons … Jefferson has qualified for the state playoffs 16 out of the last 17 years and reached at least the quarterfinals three out of the last four seasons. Jefferson has a 10-3 postseason record since 2012
... Jefferson’s defense is allowing just 11.9 points per game this year and just seven points per game in its last five games
... Jefferson’s rushing attack is averaging 245.7 yards per contest. Three players have surpassed 500 yards rushing on the season — Colby Wood (1,111), Colby Clark (559) and Zack Boobas (526).
•What the coach is saying: “I anticipate them to look to spread us out and go to a lot of three and four and five wide (receiver) formations just trying to spread our defensive front out
… They’ll probably be wide open offensively and throw it a lot.” — Jefferson coach Ben Hall on Pickens.
Playoff Football: Wood, Dragons run past Pickens Co. in Round 1; host West Laurens next Friday
Friday, November 11. 2016
The Jefferson Dragons and running back Colby Wood flexed their muscles in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs against Pickens County on Friday night.
Wood rushed for 223 yards on only 13 carries, while the rest of the Dragons dominated in their own way to win 59-21.
The Dragons will host West Laurens next Friday in the second round.
Jefferson improved to 6-3 in playoff games under head coach Ben Hall and 4-0 in the first round.
“I just have to give thanks to my offensive line for opening up holes like they have all season," Wood said. "The hole was there, and I would run, luckily, I could keep my feet going. Good things happen when you do that. “Last year coming into the playoffs, I was a little banged up, but I still tried to do everything for my team, but I feel so much better this year and I’m thankful that coach Hall limited carries throughout the season, because he knows the playoffs are coming so I have to be ready if he needs me.”
Jefferson had a perfect start to the night by forcing a three-and-out on defense and then blocked a punt to give the offense the ball at the Pickens County 5-yard line. Wood scored a couple plays later to open the game at 7-0.
Wood started the next Dragons' possession with a 37-yard run, which set up a Hayden Kilgore 39-yard field goal a few plays later.
After another stop by the Dragons' defense, Corbin returned a punt 53 yards to the end zone to give Jefferson a 17-0 lead after the first quarter.
Wood had a 31-yard run on the next possession and Zack Boobas scored from seven yards out soon after and Jefferson led 24-0. But, Pickens returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards to get on the board.
Pickens then recovered an onside kick, but the offense threw an interception on fourth down at the Dragons' 40-yard line.
Wood ended that possession with a 25-yard touchdown run. He began the Dragons' final possession of the first half with a 61-yard run.
Quarterback Colby Clark finished the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Elegreet, giving Jefferson a 38-7 lead at halftime.
Pickens began the second half with another onside kick, but Jefferson recovered the ball at midfield. Wood and Clark ran all 50 of the yards to the end zone with Wood scoring from three yards out to stretch the lead to 45-7.
Bryce Moore led the next possession from the Dragons' 24-yard line. Boobas finished the drive with a 1-yard run, setting the score at 52-7.
Pickens County scored a couple of touchdowns in the fourth quarter against the Dragons' back-up defense, but Moore finished the game with a quarterback sneak into the end zone, giving Jefferson a 59-21 lead with under two minutes left to play.
“It’s always good to get a playoff win," Hall said. "The kids played hard. We started fast and I felt like we eased up at times, but I’d look up at the scoreboard to see we were ahead 38-7, so there’s a lot to be proud of. "The defense played well. We got to limit Colby’s carries and it was nice to get Bryce Moore in the game and let him throw the ball around. It was an outstanding effort by that boy (Wood), and I was proud to get the receivers a little action tonight. It was just a good team win.”
JEFFERSON — Colby Wood showed on Friday that he's more than ready for the playoffs.
The Jefferson junior running back torched Pickens for 219 yards rushing -- 180 of that in the first half -- and three touchdowns to help lead the Dragons to a comfortable 59-21 first round victory at Memorial Stadium.
Zack Boobas also scored two rushing touchowns, while Colby Clark tossed a scoring strike to Sammy Elegreet for 20 yards, as the Dragons (10-1) marched on to the second round, where they will play host to West Laurens.
Zac Corbin also ripped off a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter, as Jefferson raced out to a 17-0 lead in the opening period -- Wood's first touchdown plunge (1 yard) and a 38-yard field goal from Hayden Kilgore setting the Dragons on their way.
Boobas added a 7-yard second quarter scoring run before Pickens responded with a kickoff return for a score.
Yet Wood settled any thoughts of a comeback with his second touchdown -- a 25-yard scamper -- to make it 31-7 with 7:16 left in the half.
Clark's touchdown pass finished off the half with a 38-7 Jefferson lead.
Bryce Moore also added a late rushing touchdown for the Dragons, as they began to look toward their fifth straight "Sweet 16" appearance.
Jefferson Advances To Final 8 With 21 - 0 Win Over West Harelson
Jefferson moves on to quarterfinals with 21-0 shutout of West Laurens.
Jefferson saved one of its best defensive efforts for a night when it needed it the most.
The Dragons (11-1) beat visiting West Laurens 21-0 despite gaining just 136 total yards to move on to the state quarterfinals for the fourth time in the last five years.
“Our defense stepped up, and we knew that they had to because we knew the yards were going to be tough tonight,” coach Ben Hall said.
The Dragons will travel to Cairo (11-1) next Friday for the third round.
The Jefferson defense posted its fourth shutout of the year, holding West Laurens to a mere 70 yards of total offense.
Senior Dragon defensive back Alex Mason said the defense played with a sense of urgency, knowing that field position would loom large in this game. “We know we had to get a three-and-out as quick as we can,” he said. “If they pick up a first down, we’ve got to come back with the stop. Field position is a big battle when you’ve got something like this.”
Jefferson’s defense forced two turnovers and the team picked up two more fumbles on special teams. Perhaps the key stat of the night: zero turnovers for the Dragons.
“They frustrated us offensively, but we stayed the course, and we were patient,” Hall said. “We didn’t have any self-inflicted wounds. No turnovers, which was huge. We were able to stay the course and win the ball game.”
The Dragons, facing the most talented defensive front they’ve seen this year, struggled to run the ball, gaining only 13 rushing yards in the first half.
“They played one heck of a game,” Jefferson offensive tack Caleb Chandler said. “We knew that was going to be a battle through the entire game. Props to them for coming out to our stadium and putting up a fight and making it one great game.”
Colby Wood ended up with 89 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 16 carries. But over half of that came on a 53-yard touchdown with 1:50 left to ice the game.
Colby Clark finished 5-of-10 through air for 40 yards. He scored on 3-yard touchdown run.
Zack Boobas finished with 17 tackles, 15 of which were unassisted.
Jonathan Paolozzi and Dontae Wilson both recorded 11 tackles. Wilson finished with two sacks.
Jefferson cashed in on an early break, recovering a fumbled punt from West Laurens on the Raider 24 with 3:57 left in the first quarter and scoring five plays later on Clark’s 3-yard touchdown run.
“We knew we were going to have to create big plays because we knew it was going to be tough to drive 80 yards every time on that defensive front,” Hall said. “We just did a great job on the punt team causing that turnover.”
The Dragons didn’t find the end zone again until late in the third quarter when Wood scored from a yard out with 30 seconds remaining in the period to give Jefferson a 14-0 lead.
Jefferson’s defense preserved the lead in the fourth quarter by recovering a fumble on its own 18 with 4:16 left in the game and then forcing a turnover-on-downs on the Dragon 47 on West Lauren’s next possession.
“That’s what you practice for and that’s what you do,” Mason said. “Big-time players make big-time plays late in the game no matter how tired you are. You get up and you fight for the brother beside you.”
Wood bolted 53 yards for a touchdown on the next play following the turnover on downs to put an exclamation mark on the victory.
The Dragons are now 12-3 in the playoffs over the last five years, including a 10-1 mark at home during that stretch.
Another trip to the quarterfinals means Jefferson’s season will extend past Thanksgiving once again.
“Anytime you can play on Thanksgiving week and practice on Thanksgiving — our kids take a lot of pride in that,” Hall said.
Jefferson 17, Cairo 13
CAIRO – Jefferson’s Colby Wood scored on a 3-yard run with 17 seconds remaining Friday to give the Dragons – ranked No. 4 in Class 4A – a 17-13 victory over No. 6 Cairo in the quarterfinals of the state football playoffs.
Jefferson (12-1) will be making its first trip to the semifinals since 2012, the year the Dragons won the Class 2A state championship, the first and only state crown in school history.
The Syrupmakers finish the season at 11-2.
Although the Dragons tied the game at 10-10 in the third quarter, they only led for the final 17 seconds and the Jefferson defense made it stand, recovering a Cairo fumble with 8 seconds remaining.
After Walter Grant scored on a halfback pass for Cairo in the first quarter to make it 7-0, Hayden Kilgore kicked a 25-yard field goal with 11 minutes left in the second quarter to get the Dragons on the board.
Cairo’s Cole Phillips hit a 56-yard field goal (his previous best for the season was 55 yards) five minutes before halftime to give the Syrupmakers a 10-3 lead at the break.
Jefferson kicked off the scoring in the second half as Colby Clark connected with Garmon Randolph on a 26-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 10-10.
Phillips then hit a 30-yard field goal three minutes into the fourth quarter to put Cairo up 13-10.
The Dragons had a scoring opportunity snuffed at the 7:15 mark when a Clark pass from the 10-yard line was intercepted in the Syrupmakers’ end zone.
On its next possession, Cairo tried a fake punt that Jefferson stopped, and on the Dragons’ final drive, a pass interference call against the Syrupmakers set Jefferson up at the 8-yard line with 30 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Wood’s game-winning run.
Wood finished the game with 101 yards on 20 carries and Clark completed 2 of 5 passes for 56 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Dragons collected 214 offensive yards (158 rushing, 56 passing) and limited Cairo to 193 offensive yards (78 rushing, 115 passing).
Jefferson advances to the Class AAAA semifinals, where it will meet No. 2 Thomson, which defeated Spalding 30-7 on Friday.
Highlighted by two kickoffs returned for touchdowns, Thomson defeated the Dragons 42-20 Sept. 2.
The two teams have played each other 11 times since 1949, with Thomson leading the series 7-2-2.
Jefferson offensive tackle and defensive end Caleb Chandler is the Athen's Daily News player of the week after paving the way for the Dragons in a 17-13 win over Cairo in the Class 4A state quarterfinals Friday. Chandler had nine tackles, including one for a loss. The Dragons ran for 165 yards.
FOOTBALL honorable mention player of the week ~ Colby Wood, Jefferson: Wood knocked in the game-winning touchdown Friday against Cairo.
MUSING WITH CECIL BUFFINGTON
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
I recently received an e mail from Mr. Jason Kilgore, the father of Jefferson High School place-kicker Hayden Kilgore. His response to a recent face-book post gave me some really good insight into why his son has been so successful in his kicking career with the Dragons.
He mentioned that the PAT/FG team works really hard and takes pride in their consistency.
He went on to say his father, Jon Kilgore (Hayden’s Grandfather) was coached by Coach Jim Lofton at North Fulton High School. He stated that Coach Lofton was the one that actually talked his father into playing football. He noted that his father went on to play football at Auburn and 5 seasons in the NFL as a punter, So he really thanks the former Dragon coach ( Coach Lofton ) for igniting the kicking passion that continues in their family.
He also mentioned that daughter, Maryanne is a senior at Jefferson and will be attending Western Carolina University on a soccer scholarship.
I guess we should not be surprised with Hayden's ability on the grid-iron or Maryanne's soccer ability after learning of their family history of success in the kicking activity.
I want to thank Mr. Kilgore for passing along this information. We are most happy to have the Kilgore family as a part of our Jefferson community.
This is the face-book posting from November 17, 2016.
MUSING WITH CECIL BUFFINGTON
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Let's face it . . . When you are as good as this year's Jefferson football Dragons, it's easy for some players to fall between the cracks as to celebrity.
Everyone knows how good Colby Wood, Caleb Chandler and all the other Dragon super-stars are.
One player that you don't see hyped much in the newspapers is place-kicker Hayden Kilgore. This season he is 54 X 54 on points-after-touchdowns and 10 X 12 on field goals for the season. We may very well have the best place-kicker in the state and he is only a sophomore.
Holy Cow !!! I don't want to jinx his next kick, ( maybe I shouldn't mention his stats like its a no-hitter in baseball ) so I'll X this note out - XXX. This takes the hex off . . . Now he should make all 6 PAT attempts this Friday night against West Laurens in Jefferson.
A Face Book posting from 11-30-16
The Semi-Final game has officially been moved to Thomson this Friday at 7:30 pm. We hope to see the ENTIRE DRAGON NATION there! Tickets will continue to be on sale at the Jefferson Annex Office from 12:00 Noon - 3:00 pm daily. If you have purchased tickets and can not make it to Thomson, we will gladly refund your purchase. BEAT THOMSON!!!
Class AAAA semifinals notes: Jefferson at Thomson
Posted by Ben Munro Wednesday, November 30. 2016
Confidence builds after road trip. . . Jefferson not only embarked on what was very possibly the longest road trip in program history with its trek to Cairo last Friday but also returned with a win.
Dragon coach Ben Hall feels that experience will make this team all-the-more battle-tested moving forward. “We’re playing at a high level, and we’re playing with a lot of confidence,” he said. “You win a ball game like we did Friday night with all the variables involved … It takes a special group to be able to pull that off.”
New classification, but continued success
Jefferson’s jump to a higher classification did nothing to alter the Dragons’ postseason success with the Dragons advancing to the semifinals their first year in Class AAAA. Jefferson won a state title and advanced to the quarterfinals in Class AA and reached the quarterfinals once in Class AAA before this year’s playoff run in Class AAAA.
“It feels amazing, because when I was a freshman, we were still in double-A,” senior linebacker Jonathan Paolozzi said. “We went from two-A to three-A to four-A and this team has prevailed time and time again. We’re really focused on our program and we just have a tough team that gets it done.”
A time for defense
Hall said that stout defenses are the hallmark of teams who advance this far, noting that offenses that score 40 points with regularity during the regular season are seeing those totals dwindle. “That says a lot of those defenses, and our defense is right up there with the best of them,” Hall said. “They’ve been playing very sound and fundamental defense, and I’m proud of them because we have to be in the right position.”
Jefferson’s defense has allowed just eight points per game over its last six games, which includes two shutouts. The Dragons are giving up just 11.8 points per game this year.
Wary of safeties
Thomson possesses two of the best safeties that the Dragons have seen this year with Christian Tutt and Jacorey Crawford. Tutt and Crawford, both juniors, have four interceptions each this year. Tutt has four pass deflections on the year, while Crawford has two. Tutt is Thomson’s fourth-leading tackler. Crawford ranks fifth.
“Those two guys are difference makers,” Hall said.
Tutt is a major college recruiting target with offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Penn State and USC among others.
A loaded Bulldog backfield Thomson features one of the state’s most prolific running backs, Mike Thomas, who has racked up 2,143 yards on the ground this year and is averaging nine yards every time he touches the ball. Thomas is nearing the Bulldogs’ school rushing record.
“That says a lot about that kid and that tremendous program,” Hall said.
What’s scary for Thomson’s opponents is that Thomas is not the only weapon in the Bulldog backfield. Bubba Murray is a more than capable secondary option with 931 yards rushing. He’s averaging 7.8 yards per carry.
Another road trip serves as motivation Jefferson coach Ben Hall said his team will use the challenge of being sent out on the road again for a playoff game as motivation when it travels to face Thomson Friday. The Dragons were originally supposed to host the game, having won a coin toss and signed a contract to play at Memorial Stadium, but the GHSA moved the matchup to Thomson due to seating capacity issues.
“Our kids were irritated to say the least (Monday), but we had great focus at practice and I think it’s going to help sharpen our edge,” Hall said.
Thomson High School Nickname: Bulldogs Region: Region 3-AAAA Playoff seed: no. 1
All-time record: 634-312-37
State titles: 5
Coach: Rob Ridings (28-9 at Thomson, third season; 108-69 overall,16th season)
2016 record: 13-0
Points per game: 48.9
Points allowed per game: 10
Playoff wins: beat Americus-Sumter 57-23 on Nov. 11; beat West Hall 42-14 on Nov. 18; beat Spalding County 30-7 on Nov. 25
What else: Thomson beat Jefferson 42-20 back on Sept. 2 …
The Bulldogs are averaging a gaudy 48.9 points per game, having topped the 70-point mark twice this season …
Standout tailback Mike Thomas has rushed for 2,143 yards this year, averaging nine yards per carry.
Bubba Murray has 931 yards rushing and is averaging 7.8 per attempt.
The Bulldogs are averaging 319 yards per game on the ground …
Thomson is one of the top programs in the history of the state with 634 wins all time, 28 region titles and five state titles — the most recent coming in 2002.
The program has produced five NFL players, including hall-of-fame punter Ray Guy.
Luther Welsh coached Thomson to three of its state titles — in 1984 and1985 and again in 2002 during his second stint at Thomson.
Jefferson High School Nickname: Dragons
Region: Region 8-AAAA Playoff seed: No. 1
All-time record: 445-284-22 State titles: 1
Coach: Ben Hall (fourth season at Jefferson, 44-7; fourth season overall, 44-7)
2016 record: 12-1
Points per game: 32.8
Points allowed per game: 11.8
Playoff wins: beat Pickens 59-21 on Nov. 11; beat West Laurens 21-0 on Nov. 18; beat Cairo 17-13 on Nov. 25
What else: This is the Dragons’ second trip to the state semifinals in the last five years…
Jefferson owns a 13-3 record in the playoffs since 2012.
The team is 8-3 in the playoffs under coach Ben Hall …
The Dragons’ win over Cairo last Friday was its first road win in the postseason since 2013 when they beat Heard County in a 61-57 shootout …
Jefferson has won 10 straight games since losing to Thompson 42-20 on Sept. 2…
Junior Dragon tailback Colby Wood has 1,534 yards rushing on the year with 20 rushing touchdowns. He has 24 touchdowns overall …
Jefferson’s defense has allowed just eight points per game over its last six games, including two shutouts …
The Dragons are 58-8 over the last five seasons and have won at least 12 games in a season three times since 2012.
Changing venues: Two semifinals were moved because the original home team did not have enough permanent seating as required by the GHSA.
Roswell and Westlake, two Fulton County schools, will play at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta. Westlake was the original home team, but neither had the required 6,000 seats for a AAAAAAA semifinal.
Jefferson now will play at Thomson. Jefferson fell 800 short of the 4,000 required for AAAA. That was a tough pill for Jefferson to swallow because the school's stadium is sufficient for AAA. Jefferson has AAA enrollment, but was forced into AAAA this academic year by the GHSA's new out-of-county enrollment rule.
Dragons fall in Semi-Finals to Thompson - 27 - 6
Thomson 27, Jefferson 6: Bulldogs run away with rematch in semifinals
Posted by Ben Munro Saturday, December 3. 2016
The road to the state finals had to go through Thomson, and Jefferson – for the second time this year – lost by three touchdowns to the talented Bulldogs.
The Dragons (12-2), relegated to playing on the road despite winning a coin flip to host this game, fell to Thomson 27-6 Friday in the state semifinals at the Brickyard.
“We came out and we gave it everything we had,” senior defensive lineman Will Kellum said. “We messed up in just some key areas. It just cost us the game. It’s as simple as that.”
The GHSA moved this rematch of top-5 teams to Thomson due to seating capacity issues at Jefferson’s Memorial Stadium.
Jefferson, hoping to avenge its 42-20 loss to Thomson Sept. 2, was limited to a pair of Hayden Kilgore field goals (22 yards and 30 yards) in this loss as the Dragons saw two drives inside the Thomson 10-yard line stall due penalties.
“We go down and we get inside the red zone and we get two drive-killing penalties and have to settle for field goals,” Hall said. “It’s just a tough loss … That’s a very talented football team.”
Colby Wood finished with 100 yards on 16 carries, closing his junior season with 1,634 yards. Quarterback Colby Clark added 71 yards on 16 carries.
Jefferson did not complete a pass.
Kilgore’s first field goal put the Dragons up 3-0 in the second quarter before the Bulldogs reeled off 20 consecutive points to take control of the game.
Thomson hit some big plays in the passing game in doing so. Mills Ridings connected on passes of 30 yards and 40 yards set up the Bulldogs’ first two scores.
“You see the guys they have,” Hall said. “It’s just they threw it up and our guys were in great position and just couldn’t make the play.”
Standout Bulldog tailback Mike Thomas, who finished with 99 yards, capped the first touchdown drive by diving into the end zone from one yard out.
Ridings carried the ball in from 14 yards out, running free on a quarterback keeper, for Thomson’s second score.
Thomas, a 2,000-yard rusher on the year, contributed to the passing game by throwing a 30-yard touchdown on a halfback pass to Trey Parker to put the Bulldogs up 20-3 at the 8:55 mark in the third quarter.
Kilgore connected on his second field goal with 4:17 left in the third quarter, but the Dragons still trailed by two scores, 20-6.
“Offensively, we moved the ball on them, but like I said we get down there on the condensed end of the field and we get two penalties that kill drives and have to settle for field goals,” Hall said. “That’s tough.”
Bubba Murray put the game out of reach, scoring from two yards out with 10:08 after setting up the touchdown with a 40-yard run.
This was only the third time this season that the Dragons had given up more than 21 points.
“I don’t think it was a lack of our game plan,” senior linebacker Blake Wright said. “We just allowed a couple plays that got out of our radar, and that hurt us in the end.”
The defeat denied Jefferson its second trip to the state finals in the last five years, but the Dragons still managed to reach the semifinals in their first year in Class AAAA.
“We didn’t finish up where we wanted to – that’s obvious,” Wright said. “Everyone wants to win a state championship, and we’re no different. But going to in the final four in a classification that we are smaller than pretty much every school , I think that really speaks to our character. I know for a fact that all those boys and myself, we played our hearts out.”
Hall said he’s proud of what this team accomplished. “I think we have a lot of momentum , thanks to this team, and we will build on their effort and we’ll be back again next year,” he said.
Jefferson’s senior class now moves on after compiling a 44-8 record with two trips to the quarterfinals and one to the semifinals.
“We set the bar high,” Kellum said. “I believe in the class that’s coming up, and I know they will compete and they will do just as good if not better.”
Who is Class AAAA Player of the Year?
Trevor Lawrence - Cartersville
Ryan Glover - Woodward
Michael Thomas - Thomson
Walter Grant - Cairo
Dontae Wilson - Jefferson
OFFENSE QB – Trevor Lawrence, Cartersville
RB – Michael Thomas, Thomson
RB – Colby Wood, Jefferson
RB – Jalyn Shelton, Ridgeland
WR – Josh Johnson, Woodward Acd.
WR – Jay Jones, Northwest Whitfield
WR – Avery Showell, Cartersville
WR – Ryan Carter, Heritage
TE – Parker Mallett, Sandy Creek
OL – Will Nana Fabu, Columbus
OL – Caleb Chandler, Jefferson
OL – Jacob Bolton, Blessed Trinity
OL – Caleb Etheridge, Mary Persons
OL – Cole Neely, Sandy Creek
OL – Charlie Clark, Marist
K – Cole Phillips, Cairo
ATH – Steele Chambers, Blessed Trinity
DL – Malik Herring, Mary Persons
DL – Dontae Wilson, Jefferson
DL – William Green, Westover
DL – George Lira, West Hall
DL – Torrian Scrutchins, Cartersville
LB – RJ Cummings, Carver
LB – De’Morreal Burnum, Salem
LB – K.J. Phillips, Woodward Acd.
LB – Walter Grant, Cairo
CB – Trey Creamer, Cartersville
CB – Christian Tutt, Thomson
CB – Tyricus Danielly, Mary Persons
S – Zack Boobas, Jefferson
S – Markeith Montgomery, Ridgeland
P – Juwan Gibbs, Eastside
RET – US Beasley, Carver
Jefferson football coach Ben Hall has resigned, Hall confirmed Wednesday.
Hall spent eight seasons at Jefferson, including four as the Dragons’ head coach.
Hall also spent four seasons as Jefferson’s offensive coordinator and helped the Dragons to the 2012 Class 2A state title under then-head coach T. McFerrin.
“I would like to thank the Jefferson Community for 8 wonderful years of serving their school. My family and I have made many friends and countless memories during our time here,” Hall said in an emailed statement. “However, I feel it is time to take on another challenge in my coaching career. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to serve Jefferson High School.”
The Jefferson job was Hall’s first as a head coach. He went 44-8 over four seasons, including a 12-2 finish and Class 4A state semifinal appearance this season.
Hall coached the Dragons in three different classifications and reached the state playoffs in each, including state quarterfinals appearance in Class 2A (2013) and 3A (2014).
Multiple reports indicate that Hall is bound for Flowery Branch. Hall was an assistant at Flowery Branch before coming to Jefferson.
BREAKING NEWS: Jefferson football coach leaving for Flowery Branch
Posted by Ben Munro
Wednesday, January 4. 2017
Ben Hall is leaving Jefferson to take over as head football coach at Flowery Branch, ending one of the most successful coaching tenures in school history.
Jefferson City Schools superintendent John Jackson confirmed the move Wednesday morning.
Hall compiled a 44-8 record in his four years with the Dragons, guiding the program to two region titles and to the playoffs for four straight seasons.
“I would like to thank the Jefferson community for eight wonderful years of serving their school,” Hall said via email. “My family and I have made many friends and countless memories during our time here. However, I feel it is time to take on another challenge in my coaching career. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to serve Jefferson High School.”
The former Furman University football player led Jefferson to state quarterfinals appearances in 2013 and 2014 and to the state semifinals this past season.
“He did a great job,” Jackson said. “His record speaks for itself. I knew that Ben was a coach that a lot of people would be looking at, and they have.”
Hall’s time at Jefferson dates back to 2009, when he joined former coach T. McFerrin’s staff. Hall served four seasons as an assistant coach for the Dragons and was the offensive coordinator for Jefferson’s 2012 state title team. He succeeded McFerrin the following season.
Hall more than upheld the standard set during the McFerrin years, winning 10 games or more all four seasons, while the Dragons were a perennial top-10 team.
Within two years of his hiring, Jefferson won a region championship under Hall, who guided the Dragons to the 8-AAA title in 2014 when the program moved up to Class AAA.
Jefferson jumped to Class AAAA this past season, and Hall delivered a region title in 8-AAAA.
The 2016 campaign was Hall’s best in terms of postseason success. The Dragons went 12-2 and reached the Class AAAA semifinals where they lost to Thomson. Hall was selected as the Region 8-AAAA Coach of the Year and the MainStreet Newspapers Coach of the Year.
“He did a great job for Jefferson, and we appreciate everything he did for us,” Jackson said.
Hall will take over a Flowery Branch program that slumped to a 3-7 record under former coach Chris Griffin. The Falcons’ win total has decreased nearly every year since the program went 11-2 in Lee Shaw’s final year in 2011.
Jefferson beat Flowery Branch 33-0 this past season.
Hall lives in Flowery Branch and served as an assistant coach for Flowery Branch in 2008 under Shaw. The Falcons reached the state finals that year.
“When they had a vacancy, clearly they thought of Ben,” Jackson said. “He lives right across the street.” Jefferson will play Flowery Branch this year.
Jackson said Hall has requested to be released from his contract as soon possible to allow him to start at Flowery Branch next week.
“I don’t think that is going to be a problem,” Jackson said. “Of course, that would be something that ultimately is decided on by the (school) board. But I think we’re at a point where Ben wants to move on and we need to move on.”
As for Jefferson moving forward, Jackson believes a few coaches already on staff will apply for the job and said the vacancy should also generate “a fair amount of interest from outside.”
Jackson did not put a timetable on finding Hall’s successor.
“It’s an important position, and we want to do a good job in filling it,” he said. “We’ll take whatever amount of time we feel like we need in order to do the best job we possibly can.”
St, Pius Pounds Jefferson with triple option ground attack
St. Pius X’s triple option attack was as good as advertised — and then some. The Golden Lions ran for 396 yards and scored on all of its offensive possessions, with the exception of a kneel-down at the end of the game, to upset Jefferson 43-29 Friday in Atlanta.
“Obviously, they put on a clinic in the triple-option offense,” Dragon coach Gene Cathcart said. “That was frustrating … We’ve leaned on our defense so often in the past that offensively, when you have a game like, this you’ve got to answer.” Cathcart added he “never felt like we played as well offensively as we needed to do to win a game like that.”
The Golden Lions' win snapped an eight-game winning streak in region play for Jefferson (6-2, 2-1).
St. Pius X (3-5), at 3-0 in region play, now has the inside track for the Region 8-AAAA title.
“All the credit in the world to (coach) Paul (Standard) and them,” Cathcart said. “What a great job their guys did in executing and executing that offense to a T.”
Jefferson’s Colby Wood finished with 169 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, but the Dragons had few answers for St. Pius X’s offense.
The Golden Lions finished with 503 total yards, which included a perfect 4-for-4 night passing for 107 yards.
“We needed at some point to take away something, and never really took away the fullback, never really took away the quarterback and never really took away the pitch and never took away the throws down the field,” Cathcart said. “And that’s frustrating.”
Despite its struggles, Jefferson pulled to within six points of St. Pius X with 10:22 left in the game. Bryce Moore threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Elegreet and ran for a 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 35-29, but the Dragons couldn’t manage a stop on defense.
With St. Pius facing a 2nd-and-15, quarterback Connor Egan connected on a 42-yard pass to Sam Schwaner to move St. Pius into Jefferson territory. Egan scored six plays later from seven yards out and then hit Zachary Ranson for a two-point conversion to put the Golden Lions up 43-29 with 5:04 left in the game.
Moore was intercepted on the first play of the subsequent drive, which sealed the win for St. Pius. The Golden Lions proceeded to run out the clock. The 43 points surrendered where the most by Jefferson since a 61-57 win over Heard County in 2013.
St. Pius’ option attack was clicking early and often as the Golden Lions opened with a 15-play, 77-yard drive, ending in a one-yard score from Michael Benefield. It was the first of three first-half touchdowns for Benefield. He later scored on a 22-yarder and gave St. Pius a 28-14 halftime lead when he took an option pitch 59 yards to the end zone. Jason Jones also had a 44-yard touchdown run for the Golden Lions, who rushed for 272 yards in the first half.
Jefferson got first-half touchdowns from Wood, who scored from 13 yards out, and Zac Corbin, who caught a 13-yard pass from Moore.
Moore finished 9-of-18 for 129 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Dragons opened the second half with a 3-yard touchdown run from Justin Cole, which was set up by a 56-yard jaunt by Wood.
But St. Pius answered with a 2-yard scoring run from Egan, which put the Golden Lions ahead 35-21.
Jefferson will travel next week to Stephens County, which beat Oconee County 24-17 Friday.
Cathcart said his team must band together in the wake of the loss. “Hopefully, we’ll all stick together and love each other,” he said. “My message to them was it’s not going to be the Bataan Death March next week. It’s going to be the same practice schedule and the same everything. We’ve got to get better, and make sure I have us better prepared next week.”