The Jefferson Dragons will advance to the next round of the state football playoffs Friday, Nov. 22, following the team's overwhelming defeat of the Sonoraville Phoenix 49-17 on Nov. 15.
The Dragons (9-1) will face Appling County (9-2) at home Friday night for the round of 16 in GHSA Class 3A play.
Jefferson dispatched Sonoraville (5-6) Friday (Nov. 15), dominating the second half of play. But until the middle of the third quarter, the game was close as Jefferson led by only three points, 20-17.
The Dragons were led by quarterback Colby Clark, who scored four of the Dragons seven touchdowns. Also scoring were Kade McNally, Kolton Jones and Jordan Perry.
Jefferson scored 29 unanswered points to close out the game.
"Finally near the end of the game, we did a good job of kind of pulling away and advancing to the second round," Dragon coach Gene Cathcart said.
Jefferson rushed for 390 yards on just 35 carries (11.14 per rush) in advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the seventh time in the last eight seasons.
But Sonoraville was effective in controlling time of possession, leading the Dragons in that category 30:56-20:50.
"They did a good job of taking the 25-second clock down with their offense and then converting a lot of third, and then some fourth downs ... We were very limited with the number of possessions that we had," Cathcart said. "Our defense did a great job of keeping them out of the end zone, but we didn't we didn't get as many at bats as we usually get."
As a cold rain fell on a sparse crowd Friday night, Jefferson struck early in the first period on the fourth play of the game as Clark scored on a quarterback keeper from the five yard line.
Sonoraville answered with a touchdown with 2:32 left in the period by grinding out a long drive and dominating the clock, but the PAT failed leaving the Dragons up 7-6.
Early in the second period, Sonoraville again dominated the clock, but had to punt after the Dragons sacked their quarterback on third and nine.
With 8:10 left in the first half, McNally had a 76-yard sprint for another touchdown, putting the Dragons up 14-6.
Jefferson snagged a quick interception as Sonoraville attempted another drive, but the turnover was short-lived as the Phoenix quickly grabbed an interception of their own to take back control of the ball.
After being stopped by the Dragons, Sonoraville faked a punt, running for a first down to keep their drive alive. The Phoenix again ground down the clock as they drove down the field, but had to settle for a field goal with 2:24 left in the half.
With just 40 seconds left in the half, the Dragons capped a long drive as Clark ran the ball in from the six yard line, putting the Dragons up 20-9 at the half.
Sonoraville started the second half with a gamble that led to a long drive. On their own 30 yard line with fourth and inches to go, the Phoenix converted. Dominating the clock, Sonoraville drove down field behind the running of their quarterback Brady Lackey, scoring with a short pass from the three yard line with 7:38 left in the third quarter. A two-point conversion closed the gap to 20-17.
But that would prove to be the Phoenix's high water mark. Three minutes later, the Dragons capped a 60-yard drive with another touchdown by Colby Clark, putting Jefferson up 27-17.
Sonoraville attempted another drive, but was stopped by a Jefferson sack as the quarter ended.
The fourth quarter was all Jefferson as Kolton Jones ran a zig-zag sprint from the 30 yard line into the end zone for Jefferson's fifth touchdown at 9:57 left in the game.
The Dragons held Sonoraville to a quick punt, then on the first play of Jefferson's possession Jorda Perry sprinted 45 yards for another Jefferson touchdown. A two point conversion put the Dragons up 42-17 with 8:06 left in the game.
The Dragons quickly recovered a Sonoraville fumble and began a long drive behind Clark's running. With 4:33 left to play, Clark drove in from the 11 yard line for Jefferson's final touchdown with 4:33 left on the clock.
Up 49-17, Jefferson twice batted down Sonoraville passes and held on fourth down. With 2:38 left, the Dragons took possession of the ball. After two running plays, Jefferson let the clock run out capping their victory.
Clark ended the night with 146 rushing yards, two completed passes for 41 yards and four touchdowns.
McNally had 111 rushing yards; Jones 31 yards rushing; Perry 68 yards rushing and 25 yards receiving; and Reese Johnson 38 yards.
Cathcart said given the night's wet conditions, "it didn't feel like a typical Dragons first-round Friday night."
"But we checked the main box, which is to advance, and got that done," he said. "I was very pleased with the momentum we finished with."