The Jefferson football team continued its perfect start with a lopsided win over Region 8-AAAA rival Flowery Branch.
The Dragons outgained the Falcons 339-252, while Sammy Brown rushed for 133 yards and Malaki Starks rushed for 104 yards. More importantly, the Dragons won the scoreboard battle 27-7.
Despite beating a fellow top 10 team by 20 points, head coach Gene Cathcart says the Dragons still have a lot to clean up. Penalties were his main gripe, Jefferson committed eight penalties for 105 yards.
“We have so many things to clean up,” Cathcart said. “We continue to get penalties and we never really had that knockout punch. We kept it a three-score game and couldn’t quite stretch it to a four-score game where we could relax and sub in some folks. That was disappointing.
“But there were a lot of positives defensively, no doubt one our best efforts. I was very proud of our defense, and offensively we did what we had to do to win the game. We had some big plays.”
While the superstars put up the gaudy stats, Tre Reece set the tone for the Jefferson (5-0, 1-0 Region 8-AAAA) offense with a big first quarter. He ended Jefferson’s first drive with an 18-yard touchdown run to give the Dragons a 7-0 lead with 1:31 left in the first quarter. Reece had 41 yards on five carries when Jefferson went into the locker room for halftime.
“Not only that, but he didn’t come off the field much tonight,” he said.
Reece was integral on defense as well. He and Dawson Crawley had to cover Flowery Branch’s top receiver, Jaheim Hayes. The duo prevented Hayes from making any major plays in the passing game.
“They had battle, after battle, after battle,” Cathcart said. “I’m really proud of Tre and the improvements he has made week after week.”
Flowery Branch (3-2, 0-1 Region 8-AAAA) threatened Jefferson’s lead on its next possession driving from its own 25-yard line with a pair of first downs. The Falcons were granted one of their first downs via a pass interference penalty.
However, Flowery Branch committed its share of penalties on the drive too, namely a false start and delay of game to force a fourth and long inside Jefferson’s 40-yard line. Falcon quarterback David Renard completed a long pass to the Dragon’s 17-yard line, but it wasn’t long enough to extend the drive.
Starks made Flowery Branch pay for failing to score by leading the Dragons on an 83-yard touchdown drive. Early in the possession, Starks avoided a sack deep in the backfield and found Spencer Neese for a nine-yard gain. Later, he maneuvered through the Falcon defense for a 26-yard run deep into Falcon territory.
A 15-yard penalty on the next snap put the drive in jeopardy, but Jefferson recovered and eventually drove down to the goal line where Sammy Brown burrowed his way into the end zone to extend the lead to 14-0. That remained the score at halftime.
Brown broke the game open early in the second half with an emphatic 57-yard touchdown run. The sophomore broke a couple of tackles near the line of scrimmage and used his speed to burn the Falcons defense. Jefferson led 21-0 with 10:07 left in the third quarter.
The Dragons had a chance to put the game away when Kadin Bailey recovered a Flowery Branch fumble at the Falcons’ 34-yard line. However, penalties put the Dragons behind the sticks, forcing them to attempt a fourth-down conversion needing 14 yards. Starks had a receiver wide open in the end zone, but he underthrew the pass.
Jefferson finally put the game away when Sammy Brown score on a five-yard touchdown run with 4:28 left in regulation. A missed extra point held the score at 27-0. Flowery Branch prevented the shutout with a one-yard touchdown run with seconds left in the game, cutting the final score to 27-7.
Jefferson goes back on the road next week to play East Hall (1-4, 0-1 Region 8-AAAA).
JORDAN PERRY RETURNS
Jordan Perry returns to the active roster Friday and was even a part of some stops on defense, including a tackle on third and long in the third quarter. He ended the game with 3.5 tackles. Perry’s return comes 24 hours after he announced his commitment to Big 12 program Kansas State.
“It was great to see Jordan Perry out there running around and getting some reps,” Cathcart said. “I was so happy for him. He feels comfortable out there.
“There’s going to be a lot of power five schools dotting the map between here and Kansas State that are going to regret that they did not pull the trigger on that young man.”