COMMERCE — The 65th edition of the River War between Commerce and Jefferson came down to one final play - and it was Zach Allen who saved the day for Jefferson.
Allen broke through the middle of the Tigers' line to block a 46-yard field goal with three seconds to play, preserving the Dragons' 17-14 win on Friday night.
"I remember from two years ago, my brother, Patrick Allen, blocked the kick at the Commerce-Jefferson game and I got fussed out for not going on that one," Allen said. "So I just wasn't going to let that happen again."
With barely three minutes left to play, Commerce took over at its own 4-yard line and steadily moved into scoring territory.
Quarterback Cody Streetman led the drive, rushing for 43 of Commerce's 68 yards on the possession. Streetman was the Tigers' workhorse all night, rushing 32 times for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
With the ball just inside the 30-yard line, Commerce finally decided to attempt the long field goal just before the buzzer before Allen broke through the line and blocked the attempt as time expired.
Commerce essentially dominated the scoreless first half. The Tigers controlled the ball for 20 of the 24 minutes in the half, but were unable to come away with any points.
Jefferson, however, took the ball in the second half and drove the ball 50 yards, putting three points on the board with an Asher Orr field goal.
On Commerce's first offensive play of the second half, Cain Finch intercepted a Tigers pass at the 45-yard line. After some big plays on delayed draws, Jefferson capitalized on the turnover with an 8-yard touchdown run by Drequn Sewell.
"We made a few adjustments at halftime and thank goodness we finally started moving the ball," Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said. "We didn't have the ball maybe three or four snaps in the first half."
Commerce cut the score to 10-6 after Streetman scored on a 13-yard scamper.
Jefferson scored its final points in the fourth quarter when quarterback Bryant Shirreffs found the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown plunge.
"I'm proud of the way we hung in there because they could have folded when things went bad, but they didn't," McFerrin said.
Commerce put six on the board with 5:26 to play when Streetman once again scored, and then added the two-point conversion.
"I'm very proud of my offense. We didn't know how we were going to be, but they surprised the heck out of me," Streetman said. "Once our backs get more comfortable back there, we'll be something to handle."
Chris Jackson led the Dragons in rushing with 63 yards, most of it coming in the third quarter.
Shirreffs was 9-for-12 passing for 99 yards.
As proud as Streetman was of his offense, the reality was that it was still a loss against Commerce's biggest rival.
"It's hard. I haven't won a Jefferson game, so it's tough on me," Streetman said. "Still, I'm proud of the whole team."
On the other side of the coin, however, was the Dragons' jubilation.
"It's amazing, especially how close it was," Allen said. "I respect all of them and it came down to the wire and it was just an amazing game."