Dragons 48, Trojans 8
Difference maker: Evan Shirreffs passed for 263 yards and three touchdowns for Jefferson.
Stat that matters: The Dragons scored three touchdowns off of first-half Trojans turnovers.
Turning point: Leading 7-0, T.J. Skelton hauled in a Shirreffs pass for a 70-yard touchdown.
Who’s next: North Hall visits West Hall on Friday; Jefferson plays host to Commerce at Memorial Stadium.
Jefferson freshman phenom running back Colby Wood is quickly making a name for himself with a tenacious running style, much more assertive than most young running backs.
His breakout moment for the fifth-ranked Dragons (3-0) might have been early in the third quarter of Friday’s 48-8 win against North Hall at The Brickyard in Gainesville.
Leading by a sizable margin, Wood took the handoff from senior quarterback Evan Shirreffs and streaked past a host of Trojans (0-1) defenders, and despite losing a shoe went in 48 yards down the sideline for the touchdown.
“Colby’s the kind of running back that finds a way to get the job done,” said Shirreffs, who passed for 263 yards.
It was the same spot Shirreffs’ older brother, Bryant, who now plays quarterback at the University of Connecticut, led the Dragons to a come-from-behind win in Gainesville, before going on to win the Class AA state title during the 2012 season.
Now in Class AAA, the Dragons look balanced on both sides of the ball. Shirreffs hit wide receiver T.J. Skelton on two long first-quarter touchdown throws, then a short 6-yard pass for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Wood scored for the Dragons on the opening drive with a 7-yard run, and finished the game’s opening drive with 35 on the ground. On the game’s first play, Shirreffs hit Hunter Gatlin for a 34-yard gain. Then Wood put his head down and gained 5, 16 and 4 yards on consecutive runs against a young Trojans defense.
“Colby’s certainly got a bright future here at Jefferson if he continues to work hard,” said Jefferson coach Ben Hall.
Led by Wood, Jefferson rushed for 169 yards and finished the game with 432 yards of offense.
“I thought we did a very job of moving the ball in the first half,” Hall said. “Evan’s really improved his touch on the football, and we really wanted to be able to counter (North Hall’s) running game tonight.”
North Hall gained all 200 yards of offense rushing. Sophomore quarterback Maddox Turner rushed for 75 yards, while running back Austin Perry had 70 yards and the Trojans’ only touchdown of the night with a 12-yard run late in the second quarter.
Kendrick Robinson intercepted all three of North Hall’s pass attempts on the night. The Dragons scored a touchdown on all three of the Trojans’ first-half turnovers, including Shirreffs’ 54-yard strike to Skelton, who took it in for a touchdown.
Earlier in the first quarter, Shirreffs threw it over the North Hall secondary, right into the arms of Skelton for a 70-yard touchdown.
Skelton had 130 receiving yards, while Dalton Hill caught four passes for 85 yards for the Dragons. Rodney Carr hauled in three short passes for Jefferson.
“I have great wide receivers to throw the football to,” Shirreffs said. “I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”
Sammy Williams also scored on a 4-yard run in the opening quarter for Jefferson, which led 28-0 before North Hall manufactured its initial first down early in the second quarter.
Jefferson is now 3-0 for the first time since 2011, when it earned wins against Commerce, North Hall and Dawson County to open the season. The Dragons now prepare to face cross-county rival Commerce on Friday at Memorial Stadium, before playing six straight in Region 8-AAA play to conclude the regular season.
North Hall dropped its season opener for the first time since 2011. On Friday, the Trojans visit West Hall in Oakwood.