JEFFERSON — Coming into Friday night, Jefferson senior defensive tackle Deshon Lester had never scored a touchdown in his high school career. That made the first play from scrimmage at Jefferson Memorial Stadium all the more memorable.
Lester set the tone for the game when he forced a fumble by Pepperell quarterback Trevor Thomas on a sack, scooped up the ball and carried it into the end zone, and Jefferson cruised to a 49-0 victory in the opening round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
“It felt really good,” Lester said. “All my teammates were celebrating with me. It was a big deal.”
Jefferson (10-1) will travel to Roswell next Friday to face the Blessed Trinity Titans (10-0-1) in a rematch of the 2014 state quarterfinals. The Titans defeated the Dragons 28-21 in overtime last season. Blessed Trinity knocked off Cook 40-14 Friday night.
Jefferson finished with 377 yards of total offense, while limiting Pepperell (7-4) to 166.
Dragons star running back Colby Wood was held to 60 rushing yards on 16 carries, but the sophomore surpassed 2,000 rushing yards for the season. He also rushed for two touchdowns and scored another via a pick-six interception return on defense.
Junior Zack Boobas did most of the Dragons’ damage on offense with 194 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
“Zack is a competitor and has been for us all year,” Jefferson third-year coach Ben Hall said. “He proved over the last couple weeks that he was a solid back running the ball, so we gave him opportunities tonight and he came through.
“I was proud of the way he played. Going forward we’re going to need more than one guy to carry the load.”
Boobas delivered Jefferson’s second touchdown of the night on a 7-yard run with 2:42 remaining in the first quarter. He later broke off a 52-yard run to set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Wood early in the second quarter.
Jefferson remained ahead 21-0 going into halftime.
The Dragons marched 58 yards for another 1-yard touchdown run by Wood on the first possession of the third quarter, and Boobas added a 3-yard score with 1:39 remaining in the period.
“We didn’t execute well offensively in the first half, but we regrouped and played a solid second half and finished the ball game,” Hall said. “It was great to get a win in the first round and we’ll get ready for the next one.”
Wood intercepted a pass by Thomas and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown with 30 seconds left in the third quarter to increase the lead to 42-0.
Jefferson turned to its reserves for the fourth quarter, which was played under a running clock. Justin Cole tacked on the final touchdown on a 1-yard run with 5:56 remaining.
Now the Dragons must shift their attention to Blessed Trinity.
“It’s going to be a tough one, but I think we’re going to bring it to Blessed Trinity,” Lester said. “We’re going to have a good battle out there.”