Jefferson's best defensive effort of the year wasn't enough to save it from another tough subregion loss as the Dragons fell to no. 6 Elbert County 14-0 Friday at Memorial Stadium.
Jefferson (5-2, 2-2) trailed 7-0 until 1:07 left in the game when Blue Devil quarterback Hunter Blackmon romped 56 yards — off of a perfect fake — to clinch the victory. Click here for photos.
Defensive end Carson Newman had another huge night for Jefferson, picking up 19 tackles — four of which were for loss. Wesley Simonton added 13 tackles and Drequn Sewell finished with 10 as the Dragon defense held an Elbert County team averaging 36.5 points a game to two scores.
Despite the disappointment of the loss, Dragon coach T. McFerrin praised his defense.
"They played great; I'm just so proud of the defense," McFerrin said. "They just hung in there and hung in there and hung in there. They played their guts out ... They grew up tonight. That's for sure."
Jefferson's offense, conversely, struggled against Elbert County's stout defense, as the Dragons were shutout for the first time since 2005. The Blue Devils (7-0, 4-0) have surrendered just seven points in the their last five games. Jefferson finished with 129 total yards.
Still, the Dragons had their chance.
Down 7-0 late, Jefferson received a gift-wrapped fumble on the Blue Devils' 30 yard-line with 4:08 left. But the Dragons couldn't cash in. Jefferson netted one yard on three plays and Bryant Shirreffs threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-9 to turn the ball over on downs.
"We didn't capitalize all night long on anything," McFerrin said.
Elbert County grabbed a 7-0 lead when Blackmon ran for a six-yard touchdown with 1:19 left in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Jefferson struggled to generate any offense in the first half, getting its first first down with 11 seconds left in the half.
The Dragons move on to face crosstown rival Jackson County next week. McFerrin was confident that his players could put this loss behind them.
"Yeah, we got to," he said. "It's going to be tough to do that, but our players will get back up and play next week. They've got character and they'll get up and play."