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Jefferson rebounds from loss, sloshes way to 43-27 win over Hart County
Dragons enter playoffs as No. 2 seed from region
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JEFFERSON — Jefferson bounced back from its first loss of the season to Oconee County last week to defeat Hart County 43-27 on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.

Jefferson came into the game in a four-way tie for first place in Region 8-AAA with Oconee, Hart and Elbert County. Despite a record-breaking performance by Colby Wood and a solid game by his supporting cast, the Dragons finished second in Region 8-AAA going into next week’s state playoffs.

“Our guys knew that we could only control what we were able to control tonight as far as playing the ballgame and giving our best effort,” coach Ben Hall said. “We had a lot of obstacles tonight mainly because of the conditions so we kept the ball (on the ground).

“Our kids were very well-focused. Last week, Oconee County gave us our first loss and our kids responded well. I can’t help but fell like our kids had a little chip on their shoulders.”

Wood rushed for 254 yards to bring his season total to a school record 1,965 yards. The record stood for 65 years and was held by Curtis Seagar, who ended the 1950 season with 1,881 yards.

“That’s one (school record) that kind of snuck up on us; it’s not like we give him carries to get yards. He carries the ball for us so we can win ballgames,” Hall said. “Our offensive line deserves much of that credit. Colby is a sophomore so he’s still learning. He’s going to be a really good player down the road.”

Wood remained humble after the game, giving credit to the offensive line and the coaching staff for making adjustments at halftime.

“I love this line. They are one of the best offensive lines in the state and I’m just thankful for them,” Wood said. “We continue to grow each and every week. They’re my brothers; I play hard for them and they play hard for me.”

Zack Boobas added 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns to help secure the win.

“Colby ran hard and Zack spelled him when we needed him to. Boobas earned a few more carries with the way he ran the ball tonight,” Hall said.

Boobas echoed Wood’s humility by putting the spotlight of the team.

“It was pretty fun. I just got the ball and pretty much did what I could to help the team out,” Boobas said. “It wasn’t really an individual effort out of anybody. I couldn’t have done anything without my O-line.”

Jefferson (9-1, 5-1) and Hart began the game slowly with pair of three-and-outs to start the game. The Dragons scored first with a 31-yard field goal by Hayden Kilgore. Wood had 10 carries for 45 yards on that drive to get Jefferson in scoring range.

Wood’s dominance continued on defense with an interception to give Jefferson the ball back at its own 35-yard line. He then carried the ball 10 times on a 12-play drive and ended with a 2-yard touchdown run to give Jefferson a 10-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

Hart County’s Trae Stowers tightened the game with a 32-yard run late in the second quarter. But Boobas provided an answer for the Dragons with an 11-yard touchdown run to take a 17-7 lead into halftime.

Stowers opened the second half with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Wood electrified the crowd just a few seconds later with a 65-yard touchdown run to bring the score to 24-14.

The Bulldogs responded with a quick 65-yard drive, including a 30-yard pass from Robert Allen to Anthony Turner and a 28-yard touchdown pass to Zach Maldonado. Wood continued doing what has made him one of Georgia’s best young running backs with five hard runs, concluding in a 17-yarder to extend the lead to 31-21.

The Dragons found some breathing room late in the third quarter. After they stopped a long Hart County drive, Boobas tore off a 50-yard run and Wood gained the final 23 yards needed to bring the margin to 37-21.

Hart County then went on its longest drive of the night, 17 plays for 65 yards. The possession was prolonged by a scary fall by Bulldog receiver Turner which resulted in him getting carted off the field. According to Hall, Turner was moving his extremities and will be OK.

The Bulldogs pressed forward after that and scored with a 3-yard pass to Maldonado nine plays later to shrink the Dragons’ led to 37-27. Wood intercepted a pass in the end zone to keep it from being a one-possession game.

Boobas carried the rock for most of the Dragons’ next drive, finishing with a 1-yard run. A missed extra point put Jefferson ahead 43-27.

A final interception by Alex Mason and a handful of carries by Boobas and Justin Cole drained the rest of the clock.

The Dragons return to the AAA state playoffs next week as the No. 2 seed against No. 3 seed Pepperell from Region 5. This will be the Dragons’ fifth straight playoff appearance and their 15th since the turn of the century.

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