CALHOUN — Jefferson did a lot a good things Friday night in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs against Calhoun, but it was what the Dragons didn't do that led them to a 39-6 defeat on the road.
The Dragons (8-3) racked up 351 total yards against a stingy Yellow Jackets defense that has averaged much less than that this season, but only managed six points despite 21 first downs and six trips into the Calhoun red zone.
"We did some good things on offense tonight but just couldn't finish," said head coach T. McFerrin.
The Dragons moved the ball well in the first half, with over 200 yards of offense, but couldn't capitalize on scoring opportunities.
The first big momentum swing came in the second quarter, when Jefferson elected to go for it on fourth-and-2 on the Calhoun 6-yard-line. The option pitch to Drequn Sewell fell short and the ball was given over to Calhoun (11-0) on downs.
"With the offense they've got, we had to gamble," McFerrin said. "We knew that all night long."
The Yellow Jackets then strung together a 95-yard drive that was capped by a 3-yard run by Darius Washington to go up 14-0.
On the ensuing drive, Jefferson's offense looked promising with a quick first down on a screen from quarterback Bryant Shirreffs to Stephen Chambers. However, Chambers would lose control of the ball after a few steps and would lead to a 37-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery by Grant Fuller.
Calhoun elected to go for two and couldn't covert, but would get the points anyway. A stalled Jefferson drive forced a punt that was snapped over Shirreffs head, leading him no other options but to take a safety by kicking the ball out of the end zone.
Jefferson again looked to show life just before the half when Shirreffs hit Will Puckett for a 54-yard strike that put the Dragons on the Calhoun 9-yard-line with under a minute left. But back-to-back sacks and an incomplete pass with the buzzer sounding left Jefferson down 22-0 after two quarters.
Shirreffs was sacked six times by the talented Calhoun defense. He finished 20-of-29 passing for 253 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Puckett finished his senior year with one of his best games of his career, with five catches for 107 yards.
Jefferson opened the second half with a well-executed onside kick that was recovered at midfield and the Dragons would drive all the way to the Yellow Jackets 15 but still couldn't come away with points, after penalties helped lead to a turnover on downs.
Jefferson's lone score of the second half came on a 5-yard pass from Shirreffs to McKay Dickens with just over two minutes in the third, but it wasn't nearly enough to end Calhoun's streak of 11 straight first round playoff wins.
Jefferson ends the season 8-3 after taking the No. 4 seed from 8-AA. Calhoun, the state runner-up in AA the past three years, moves on to the Sweet 16.