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Dragons upset No. 7 Washington-Wilkes, 31-0
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JEFFERSON ­— Jefferson High quarterback Bryant Shirreffs has given teams fits all season. Chalk up seventh-ranked Washington-Wilkes as the latest he’s ripped apart, as the Dragons jumped to the front of Region 8-AA as the team to beat with a 31-0 win against the Tigers on Friday at Memorial Stadium. 

Shirreffs accounted for 265 yards of total offense, and helmed a Dragons offense that put up 395 yards against a Tigers defense that had allowed just 12 points through five games coming into the night. On top of that, Jefferson’s defense held Washington-Wilkes (5-1, 2-1 Region 8-AA) to just 109 yards of offense, far less that it averaged while putting up 42 points per game prior to its first loss of the season.

Jefferson coach T. McFerrin didn’t even have to think before saying it was the best the team has played in four years under his leadership.

“I’m speechless,” McFerrin said, pacing the field after the game. “Washington-Wilkes is one heck of a team.

“That’s certainly the best we’ve played against an opponent that good.”

Shirreffs led the Dragons (4-1, 2-0) to scores on each of their first two possessions, while Washington-Wilkes’ previously sharp offense sputtered in only 10 offensive plays in the opening quarter.

“This win shows how much we’ve changed and become a better team,” Shirreffs said. “Washington-Wilkes was supposed to be the best team in the region.”

Shirreffs has gained a reputation as one of the toughest running quarterbacks in Northeast Georgia. While he ran hard again against the Tigers, his biggest contribution was probably a pass that went for long yardage in a key situation.

With Jefferson leading 10-0 midway through the second quarter, Shirreffs surveyed the field from the pocket on third and 12, hit his receiver Isaiah Blake for a short pass, then the receiver used his speed to pick up 68 yards.

“That play was designed to be a quick post, but turned out to be a game changer,” Shirreffs said.

After that long pass, Shirreffs showed off his running skills. At the Washington-Wilkes 20, Shirreffs took off with the ball and ran over a defender for a gain of 8. He did it again on the next play, running over a defender for 5 more yards. Shirreffs finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, giving the Dragons a 17-0 lead going into halftime.

Shirreffs finished the game with two rushing touchdowns and 60 yards on the ground, including an outstretched dive into the corner for a 3-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter.

“Bryant was dynamite for us tonight,” McFerrin said.

Shirreffs also had some nice passes in the first quarter. On the game’s opening drive, he got Jefferson down field quick with short passes to McKay Dickens. Deep in Washington-Wilkes territory, Shirreffs went to the end zone and found his tight end Donnie Hatfield for a 22-yard touchdown pass.

Jefferson’s longest touchdown came on a 43-yard run by tailback Sammy Williams in the fourth quarter.

Washington-Wilkes had a promising drive going to start the second half, but stalled when senior quarterback Buck Robinson was hit for a 6-yard loss on fourth and 5 at the Jefferson 32. The Tigers managed to make it deep in Jefferson territory, following a 44-yard run by Jalen Turner, then another for 6 yards.

Washington-Wilkes also missed on some big plays on the late first-half drive when twice receivers fell after a short catch with room to run, then another time when the intended receiver slipped and fell when open.

Jefferson’s defense sacked Robinson four times on the night. Washington-Wilkes’ quarterback entered the game with more than 900 yards through the air, but could produce just 64 yards passing against the Dragons.

“I salute our defense 100 percent,” Shirreffs said. “They were great all night.”

Jefferson faces Rabun County on Friday in Tiger; Washington-Wilkes plays Greene County.

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