For most of the season thus far the Jefferson football team has been perfect. But while the record will remain spotless after last night’s 27-0 blanking of Riverside Military Academy, Coach T. McFerrin has plenty to gripe about.
Offensively, his Dragons turned the ball over four times, including three fumbles, while adding in a number of penalties that led to an overall sloppiness to the triumph.
"I’m glad we won the ballgame, but I’m not happy how we won it," McFerrin said. "But you have to give Riverside credit they played hard. We made more mistakes tonight than we made the first five games."
Jefferson came out focused and ready in the opening quarter. The defense forced a quick three-and-out, giving the offense good field position near midfield.
The offensive line took control from there opening up plenty of holes for backs Lucas Redd and J.J. Damons as well as quarterback Darius Minor. The backfield trio marched downfield in 12 plays and just over five minutes before Redd finished things off with a 2-yard scoring run.
The big plays on the drive came courtesy of Minor, who converted a fourth-and-4 into an 8-yard run and a fresh set of downs and followed that up with a 13-yard scamper down to the Riverside 1.
Riverside’s offense sputtered again on its second drive as the Dragon defense stuffed the run.
Minor’s unit got the ball back in roughly the same spot near midfield, but this time he went to the air. He found Caleb Meek on the first play for 31 yards. Three plays later, he capped the drive with a perfect pass over the middle to Hoytes Damons who made a juggling catch for a 15 yard touchdown and a quick 14-0 lead.
From there, the Dragons went into cruise control.
Riverside got a little something going, but its offense was plagued by its own issue of miscues and dropped passes including one sure touchdown that was dropped early in the second quarter.
"I thought our kids hung in there and fought, the big thing that hurt us was not catching the football," Riverside coach Scot Sloan said. "It’s disappointing, when you get an opportunity against a real good football team to make a play, you can’t afford to have missed opportunities."
Jefferson fumbled away a pair of possessions before the half, but both times Riverside couldn’t capitalize on great field position, largely because of the focus the Dragons’ defense maintained throughout the game.
"The defense gave up basically one big play, but that one play was a huge momentum setter in the second half for them," Sloan said.
The Dragon offense got their focus back to open the third, thanks in large part to Minor. On the second play of the half, Minor rolled left, found an opening for about 20 yards, then cut back across the field and kept on going for a 65-yard run down to the Riverside 1.
Redd finished things off from there and essentially put the game away in the first minute of the third.
"I was proud of the defense they got after it and played real hard. We hadn’t had a shutout all year long, and it was their time to shine and they did," McFerrin said.
Jefferson went back into a lull offensively, turning the ball over on downs and fumbling on the goal line. But the Dragons were able to add one final touchdown late in the fourth as Minor finally capped a drive after getting his offense in position twice before.
Jefferson will have to get back to the drawing board this week if they hope to remain perfect.
"We certainly can’t win any more games playing like that, just sloppy play," McFerrin said.