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Dragons make it two straight over Commerce, 35-14

POSTED: September 3, 2008 5:01 a.m.

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COMMERCE -- The Jefferson High football team is turning history around.

The Dragons defeated cross-county rival Commerce 35-14 on Friday night at Tiger Stadium, giving Jefferson its first winning streak against the Tigers since defeating them in 1979 and 1980.

Jefferson broke an 11-game losing streak with the Tigers that spanned from 1996 to 2006 with a 42-7 win last year at Jefferson Memorial Stadium.

"It's a big game, and its very personal to us," Dragons coach Bill Navas said. "The communities take a lot of pride in this game, and it's a great stage to play on."

Junior quarterback Darius Minor led the Dragons, completing 13 of 14 passes for 128 passing yards in his debut for Jefferson. He also led the team with 108 rushing yards, despite carrying the ball only twice, with 44 and 62-yard rushing touchdowns.

"I had to do it for my team," Minor said. "It feels great to beat Commerce, this game is important to me. I've never lost to Commerce in anything."

Senior running back Virgil Appleby took the bulk of the carries for the Dragons with 86 yards on 12 carries. Lucas Redd scored two touchdowns, one on a 2-yard goal-line run and one on a 21-yard pass from Minor.

Tab Martin led all Jefferson receivers with 53 yards on three receptions. Redd had 26 yards on two receptions and Times Elite 11 selection Zac Crosby caught three receptions for 27 yards with one touchdown while seeing limited playing time.

"Our offense came out and did a good job tonight," Navas said. "Our pace really threw them off, and in the first half they couldn't even line up with us.

"We were just running our regular-pace offense, so that was good for us."

The Tigers ran the ball on every play for 233 total yards. Jon Cash took primary carrying duties for Commerce, running for 121 yards on 22 carries. Senior quarterback Phillip Edwards spent much of the night running in the Tigers' option-based scheme, picking up 74 yards on 20 carries.

"This is our first game and we have kinks to work out," Commerce fullback Chase Bowen said. "We'll get it together by region play."

Jefferson struck first with five minutes left in the first quarter when Minor hit Redd in the end zone from 21 yards out to give the Dragons a 7-0 lead. Minor completed all six of his passes on the first drive.

Jefferson followed up the score with a 10-play drive that ended in Redd's second touchdown of the night on a 2-yard run with 12 minutes to play in the second quarter to give the Dragons a 14-0 lead.

Commerce would get to their own 26 after recovering a Jefferson fumble, but would be unable to score in the first half.

"Our defense wasn't up to par with their offense," Bowen said. "They were throwing the ball a lot and we weren't ready."

The Tigers scored their first points of the night at the end of a 13-play drive in the third quarter, capped by Edwards' 1-yard quarterback sneak.

But Jefferson retaliated on the first play of the next drive when Minor broke open on a fake run, carrying the ball 62 yards to give the Dragons a 28-7 lead.

Jefferson increased their lead to 28 when Minor found Crosby in the end zone from 29 yards for his second touchdown pass of the night.

"Everybody sees a great an athlete in Darius, but they also see a great kid," Navas said. "We put him at quarterback because he has the best character and he's the smartest kid to play that position."

Commerce's final chance for a comeback came midway through the fourth quarter when Edwards ended another short-run, 12-play sequence with a one-run break into the end zone. They followed with another 10-play last-ditch effort, coming within Jefferson's 22-yard line, but were unable to score again.

"We now need to look to the future and see what we can do in region play," Navas said.

Jefferson begins region play against Dawson County at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Commerce looks to earn their first win of the season when they visit Morgan County at 7:30 p.m. Friday.



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