In A battle of two high-powered offenses, it was Jefferson’s balanced attack that thrived under the Georgia Dome roof Saturday.
The Dragons — who average 38 points a game —racked up 470 yards and 31 points on top-ranked Calhoun in winning the program’s first state title. The Yellow Jacket defense hadn’t given up more than 14 points in a game since the third week of the season.
Jefferson was supremely confident it could move the ball and did, knocking out 22 first downs in the process.
“We came in here saying at the beginning of the game we were going to score on every drive,” said receiver McKay Dickens, who finished with 56 yards receiving. “We didn’t do it, but we had the mentality that we were going to do it. We knew that they couldn’t stop us. The only thing that could stop us was ourselves.”
For Jefferson, the state finals victory marked the 12th straight game in which the Dragons have scored at least 31 points. Jefferson coach T. McFerrin pointed to the importance of finishing drives.
“We had 300-something yards on them last year — total — and we couldn’t score,” said McFerrin, remembering last year’s 39-6 playoff thrashing at the hands of Calhoun.
The coach said beforehand that his team needed to pass the ball well to be successful, and the Dragons did with Bryant Shirreffs throwing for 188 yards on 14-of-18 passing. Shirreffs’ top targets were Dickens, Chandler Thompson (48 yards) and Donnie Hatfield (44 yards).
But the Dragons — who became more of a running team as the year progressed — continued to find success on the ground with 282 yards rushing with two 100-yard rushers.
Shirreffs tallied his second 100-yard game in the last three weeks with 139 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Tristen Jackson finished with 101 yards and a touchdown.
Shirreffs deferred the credit to his offensive line for Jefferson’s offensive success.
“Definitely the offensive line,” Shirreffs said. “They had big task stopping their D-line and they did an amazing job. If you look, I could have probably eaten a sandwich in the pocket — I had a lot of time.”
With a near 500-yard performance from his team, McFerrin was very pleased with how his offense performed on the big stage. But he was even more pleased with the scoreboard.
“Those stats say it all,” McFerrin said. “But the biggest stat was 31 points because we had 350 yards last year I think and had six points.”