WITH THE luxury of having already clinched the Region 8-AA title, Jefferson could worry about other matters Friday — like sending the seniors out in style and fine-tuning for the state playoffs.
No problems there.
The Dragons got three touchdowns from Tristen Jackson and a pair of touchdown passes from senior Bryant Shirreffs as Jefferson capped a 9-1 regular season with a 42-7 Senior Night win over Union County.Click here for photos.
“It’s a great feeling,” senior receiver McKay Dickens said. “You know it’s coming every year and you don’t really think about it until it gets here and you realize it’s the last regular season game. It’s good to get a win.”
The Dragons, winners of nine-straight, found a spark in the second quarter with touchdown runs of one yard, seven yards and one yard from Jackson as Jefferson led 27-0 at the half. The Dragons also scored on the opening drive of the game with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Shirreffs to Dickens.
Jefferson’s 27-point lead at the half put the game out-of-reach.
“It was nice to have a lead like that at halftime,” Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said. “It was a little bit of a slow start. They were doing a good job (defensively) ... It was sort of like a zone blitz. They were bringing their corners off the edge and we didn’t pick up some of their blitzes. But Bryant did a great job of adjusting and running the football.”
Shirreffs was 14-of-17 passing for 137 yards and two touchdowns and added 73 yards on the ground to finish with 210 total yards in his final regular season home game.
Jackson — who’s playing this year following an off-season knee surgery — finished with 61 yards rushing on 12 carries to go with his three touchdowns. He also had 38 yards receiving.
“He’s rounded in to shape ... He had a great night. He really ran the ball well,” McFerrin said. “I was proud of him.”
With the game in hand, the Dragons found the end zone twice in the second half with Shirreffs throwing a three-yard touchdown pass to Donnie Hatfield late in the third quarter and Evan Shirreffs throwing a 33-yard touchdown pass to Chase Wester early in the fourth. Jefferson recorded a safety in between those touchdown passes.
Union County managed its only score very late in the contest with a 28-yard touchdown run against Jefferson’s third-teamers.
Senior Kody McDonald led Jefferson defensively with 12 tackles and a tackle for loss. Fellow senior Wesley Simonton had 10 tackles, a pass break-up and a tackle for loss.
“We played with intensity tonight (Friday),” McFerrin said. “The defense played well.”
Offensively, Jefferson racked up 208 yards rushing and 379 total yards as these Dragons became only the 12th team in school history to win nine games. Jefferson has won all its games since losing opening night to Commerce.
“We’ve all said it: Commerce was a reality check,” said Dickens, who finished with 41 yards receiving. “It was bad and it hurt but in a way that was good for us. It let us get to where we are right now.”
“After we lost that first game, that’s what I wanted — 9-1,” McFerrin said. “Before that I wanted 10-0. I told the players that not many teams are 9-1 at this time and that’s something to be proud of. And there haven’t been a whole lot of region championships here. These seniors are now part of two region championships.”