Though Jefferson allowed 30 points in its 4A State Championship Game loss to Marist, the defense had a game it could be proud of. The scoreboard fails to tell the whole story.
The highlight of the game was a marvelous second and third quarter which saw the Dragon defense pitch a shutout, force a fumble and give the offense a chance to take a lead into halftime.
Early on, Jefferson’s defense was anything but marvelous. Aided by great field position, Marist moved the ball at will on its first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead. The Dragons’ offense responded with a scoring drive to cut the score to 14-7. The complexion of the game changed for Jefferson’s defense its next time out on the field.
Austin Redmond and Carson Woodward burst through the line to rush Marist quarterback Champ Davis. They didn’t sack Davis, they did force an inaccurate throw. From that point on, Jefferson did a much better job of getting into Marist’s backfield, which Cathcart credits for his defense having a great game.
“It wasn’t really so much a scheme adjustment as we just had some great individual efforts,” said head coach Gene Cathcart. “We got some of our athletes in space finally. We really had to get penetration because they’re so dang big.
“We had to make sure our quickness gave us some kind of advantage. We were able to get in the backfield and gum some things up. That started our comeback.”
The third quarter was the most impressive quarter for Jefferson. Marist had possession for all but three minutes and had great field position each time, yet the Dragon defense didn’t allow any points and forced three punts. A safety scored by the Marist defense were the only points the Eagles scored in the quarter.
The Dragon defense finally broke in the fourth quarter, but it took a Jefferson fumble and Marist recovery near the goal line to break them. Marist scored once more against a worn-out defense to extend the lead to 30-14.
Jefferson held Marist to just 203 yards on offense despite losing the time of possession battle by five minutes. The Dragons stuffed Marist six times on third down.
Paxton Corkery had a huge game with eight tackles, two of which were sacks deep in the backfield. Kadin Bailey added four tackles with a one-half tackle for a loss. Jordan Perry had six tackles and Redmond finished with 4.5.