JEFFERSON—When it comes to the Battle of the Bridge rivalry between the Jefferson Dragons and Commerce Tigers, Jefferson head coach Ben Hall said you could throw both teams’ undefeated records out the window.
Because you don’t know what can happen during the rivalry game.
The 2014 edition went to the Dragons, who defeated the Tigers for the second straight year, 28-3, Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
“This is always big,” Hall said. “It’s always a knockdown, drag-out with these guys, and it means a lot to both guys.”
The Dragons (4-0, 0-0) were led by quarterback Evan Shirreffs, who passed for a game-high 133 yards and three touchdowns.
Wide receiver Dalton Hill caught one pass for 67 yards and a touchdown. Hunter Gatlin snagged three receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Rodney Carr added another three for 29 yards and a touchdown.
Darrian Hill led the Dragons’ ground attack, rushing for a game-high 67 yards on six carries. Colby Wood added 36 yards and a touchdown.
The Tigers (2-1, 0-0) were led by Will Thomas who rushed for 62 yards on 17 carries. Quarterback Caleb Brooks added 61 yards on 19 carries.
The Tigers struck first, putting together a 12-play drive that resulted in an Andres Salgado 27-yard field goal to put the Tigers up 3-0 late in the first quarter.
The Dragons’ offense responded by putting together a long drive of its own, going 65 yards in 10 plays that resulted in Shirreffs finding Gatlin on a 6-yard touchdown strike with 10:02 left in the second quarter.
“We know Hunter’s a good receiver, he had a catch last week and we are utilizing him in the backfield and in the passing game,” Hall said. “We thought that he may get overlooked because he hasn’t been a key feature as far as receptions go in the passing game.”
After forcing a second Tigers’ punt, the Dragons’ next possession started at the 41-yard line, but a holding penalty on the first play of the drive sent them back their own 33-yard line and a set up first-and-18.
Shirreffs didn’t let this rattle the offense as he connected with Hill on a 67-yard touchdown strike to quickly put the Dragons ahead 14-3.
Then, with 4:10 left in the second quarter, lightning sent the teams scurrying to the locker room and a 30-minute delay ensued.
Coming out of the break, the Dragons continued to sizzle as the defense held the Tigers’ offense on a third-and-3 and fourth-and-1 play. Shirreffs turned the turnover-on-downs into six points as he found Carr from 14 yards away for his third touchdown toss of the first half.
“I just told the guys to stay ready (during the delay),” Hall said. “After 30 minutes (of waiting) we wanted to stop them.
“It was third-and-3 and we stopped them. Then came out and were able to score the last possession of the second half, so that was big. We did a nice job avoiding that distraction and coming out.”
Wood extended the Dragons’ lead to 28-3, pounding his way into the end zone from 7 yards out with 6:40 left in the third quarter.
Jefferson is off next week before beginning play in Region 8-AAA against cross-county rival Jackson County.
Commerce host Athens Academy next week.