The matchup the community waited 25 years to see was a non-issue by halftime Friday.
Behind three first-half touchdown passes from Bryant Shirreffs, Jefferson led Jackson County 35-0 at intermission en route to a 42-21 homecoming win at Memorial Stadium in the first meeting between the schools since 1985. Click here for JCCHS-JHS pictures.
"It was good having a successful night after a loss to Elbert and in that fashion last week," Shirreffs said, referring to Jefferson's 51-7 loss to the Blue Devils on Oct. 15. "I think everybody had fun (tonight). It was a big rivalry obviously. It was a fun night and we saw a lot of success."
Shirreffs finished with 217 yards through the air and four touchdown passes, including 40-yard and 51-yard scoring strikes to wide receiver Will Puckett. Jefferson (4-4, 2-3) racked up 417 total yards.
Jefferson moves on to another intra-county rivalry next week, facing East Jackson at home. At 4-4 with two games left, a winning season is still within grasp for the Dragons.
For Jackson County, Kyle Daniel, Billy Manis and Alex Crawford all scored touchdowns as the Panthers rallied in the second half. The Panthers face another huge road test next week, traveling to Hart County.
During Jefferson's big first half, Shirreffs threw touchdown passes to Chris Jackson, Cole Givens and Puckett. Shirreffs' 40-yard scoring strike to Puckett with 1:21 left in the second quarter put the Dragons up by five touchdowns at the half.
After Jackson County opened the third quarter with an eight-play touchdown drive capped by a one-yard score from Daniels, Shirreffs' fourth touchdown pass of the night — the 51-yarder to Puckett — gave the Dragons a 42-7 lead.
"We just had some things going and made some big plays," Shirreffs said of the Dragons' offense. "And our receivers and linemen and tailbacks got it started early. And our rushing game was really prevalent in the beginning and then our passing game opened up."
Speaking of the running game, Jefferson rushed for 200 yards, led by Chris Jackson who had 103 yards and one touchdown. Zach Allen also had a ground score (four yards).
Jackson County didn't go away, though, in the second half.
Manis scored on a three-yard run with 1:14 left in the third quarter to cut Jefferson's lead to 42-14. In the fourth quarter, Alex Crawford knifed his way up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown with 5:28 left in the game.
Kody McDonald led Jefferson defensively with 12 tackles, two pass breakups and one tackle for loss. Kyle Mosley had 12 tackles and an interception. Allen finished with nine stops and an interception.