JEFFERSON — Jefferson coach T. McFerrin knew that the key to stopping rival Commerce began with containing Cody Streetman.
New Commerce coach Marvin Justice knew that the key would be containing Jefferson's playmakers from wheeling off big plays.
While McFerrin's gameplan went about as well as possible, Justice's could have gone better — much better.
Jefferson (1-0) reeled off big play after big play Friday and held Streetman, Commerce's four-year starter at quarterback, to just 46 yards passing and 98 yards rushing in a 41-14 drubbing of the rival Tigers (0-1) in the 66th "Battle of the Bridge."
"It was a game of big plays and I'm proud of that. Our guys played hard" McFerrin said.
The Dragons had four plays for 30 yards or more on the night.
The first came on a 57-yard pass from Bryant Shirreffs to Cole Givens to set up a 1-yard run by the Jefferson quarterback in the second to go up 14-7.
The second half was more of the same; a swing pass from Shirreffs to senior running back Drequn Sewell was taken for a 76-yard score, followed by a 48-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery by Drew Carson on the ensuing Commerce possession, putting Jefferson up 34-7 and the game all but out of reach. Shirreffs would lead his team on a 70-yard drive later in the forth — including a 30-yard scamper from the junior — which was capped off by a 16-yard run up the middle from sophomore Tristen Jackson.
"Our plan coming in was to take some chances with blitzes. Our plan was to come in and come after them and that just wasn't working," said Justice, who took over as the Tigers head coach for long-time Commerce coach Steve Savage, who retired at the end of last season.
After holding Commerce to a three and out to start the game, the Dragons strung together a 13-play, 53-yard drive led by Shirreffs, who put Jefferson up 7-0 with a 1-yard quarterback draw.
The Tigers would respond with their own long drive, primarily running the ball and milking nearly nine minutes off the clock. Commerce would get inside the Jefferson 3-yard-line before back-to-back penalties put them all but out of scoring range. On third and long, Streetman completed just his second pass attempt for a 21-yard strike to Marquavius Little.
Shirreffs continued to lead his team however, scoring twice before the half, including a 24-yard pass to a diving Will Puckett with nine seconds to go to put the Dragons up 21-7.
"That was a huge momentum shift for us," McFerrin said.
Shirreffs finished the game 13-for-16 for 246 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 38 yards and two scores. After being held pretty quiet in the first half, Sewell finished with 115 yards receiving; the majority coming on the 76-yard screen pass taken for a touchdown.
The Dragon defense held its rival to just 280 yards of total offense, with 234 of that coming on sustained drives running the ball.
Jefferson will host North Hall next week at Memorial Stadium, while Commerce will host Franklin County.