Dragons 38, Trojans 28
Difference maker: Jefferson senior Cole Givens led the Dragons with 118 receiving yards and a touchdown, and recovered a blocked punt in the endzone to put Jefferson ahead 28-7 at the end of the first half.
Stat that matters: Five turnovers in the first half alone for North Hall. Jefferson turned three of those into touchdowns to take a big first half lead.
Turning point: Jefferson blocked the Dragons' punt with less than two minutes remaining in the first half and Jefferson senior Cole Givens recovered the loose ball in the endzone to put the hosts ahead 28-0 with 1:12 remaining in the first half.
Who's next: North Hall travels to St. Pius X (Region 5-AAA) for a 7:30 start on Sept. 9 in Atlanta. Jefferson travels to Dawson County for a 7:30 meeting against Region 8-AA North opponent Dawson County in Dawsonville.
JEFFERSON--Some games test the character of a football team.
Friday night Jefferson (2-0, 0-0 Region 8-AA South) passed that test, jumping ahead early and holding on late to snatch a 38-28 win over North Hall (0-1, 0-0 Region 8-AAA North) at Jefferson Memorial Stadium.
"I'm sure proud of our guys' character," said Dragons coach T. McFerrin. "We sure kept fighting and never quit."
Jefferson needed contributions from all three phases of the game, and senior wide receiver/defensive back Cole Givens was involved in it all.
Givens caught three passes for 118 yards and a touchdown, and recovered a blocked North Hall punt in the end zone for another score that put the hosts ahead 28-7 at the half.
"That right there is going to get us ready for region play," the senior said. "I like the competition."
Jefferson got plenty of competition, especially from North Hall running back Imani Cross. The senior rushed for four touchdowns and a team-high 222 yards on 23 carries, including three scores in the second half to get the Trojans back in the game.
North Hall kicked, and recovered, an onside kick to start the third quarter, and Cross found the endzone on three consecutive possessions.
"I'm proud of my football team for the heart they showed in the second half," said North Hall coach Bob Christmas. "But you don't beat a good football team by playing two and a half quarters."
It was Jefferson quarterback Bryant Shirreffs who kept the Dragons out front, running the clock late and leading Jefferson to 10 crucial second-half points. He finished with 154 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 60 yards and another score,
Christmas said it could have been a different game had the first half not gone the way it did. But it did start on a positive for North Hall in its season opener.
The Trojans marched right down the field, and Cross punched it in to put the Trojans ahead 7-0 with 7:57 left in the first before the home team's offense had even touched the field.
The rest of the first half was all Dragons.
"Sherriffs did an outstanding job and Coach McFerrin and his staff were great," Christmas said. "I hate to play a team that has already played a game and we haven't, but the credit goes to them."
The home team forced five turnovers in the half and raced out to a 28-7 halftime lead, converting three of the turnovers into touchdowns.
But Jefferson scored its first points of the game on its first possession, with Shirreffs finishing a 68-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The Dragons missed the extra point and North Hall still held a 7-6 lead with 4:44 in the first.
It was in the second where Jefferson erupted, and it was courtesy of the defense. The Trojans turned the ball over on downs the next two possessions, and the Dragons turned both into touchdowns.
Sherriffs hit Givens for a 62-yard touchdown on a screen pass and then hit receiver Will Puckett on a fade to go ahead 14-7, and then the quarterback ran it in to take the 21-7 lead.