1004NavasAUDJefferson coach Bill Navas talks about the implications of its 47-20 win against Riverside Military on Friday.
JEFFERSON - The Region 8-AA title race was summed up best by Jefferson High football coach Bill Navas after its 47-20 win over Riverside Military on Friday night at Jefferson Memorial Stadium.
"All roads go through Jefferson now," Navas said.
The Dragons (6-0, 5-0 Region 8-AA) control their own destiny en route to the title in 8-AA, with wins already this seasons against other playoff contenders, such as Union County (4-2, 3-2), Fannin County (5-1, 4-1) and now the Eagles (4-2, 3-2).
Jefferson's last real test in the regular season comes against North Oconee (5-1, 4-1) on Oct. 31 in Jefferson.
Jefferson showed from the first drive it could move the ball at will with a 2-play, 66-yard touchdown drive to take an early 7-0 lead. Virgil Appleby scored from the 5 for the Dragons, after a 61-yard catch by sophomore tight end Hoytez Damons on the first play of the game.
Those quick drives were the story of the first half by the Dragons. Jefferson quarterback Darius Minor played pitch-and-catch with his receivers, throwing touchdowns to Lucas Redd, Tab Martin and Zac Crosby in just the first half.
"It's kind of hard to stop the spread offense," Minor said. "We have so many good playmakers, that if a defense zones in on one guy, we just throw it to another."
Minor finished the game 20-for-32 passing for 336 yards and four touchdown passes. He also rushed for a touchdown from the 18 in the fourth quarter. His two interceptions both came off tipped passes.
"Jefferson is a great football team and my hats off to them," Riverside coach Chris Lancaster said. "They have great players, physically whipped us all night and beat us up up front."
The Dragons' final play of the first quarter said it all in terms of their ability to execute offensively. Minor connected with one of his receivers for a 35-yard touchdown, only to have it called back on a holding penalty. It didn't seem to matter. From midfield, Minor found a wide open Crosby for a touchdown that did count, giving the Dragons a 20-6 lead.
Crosby led all of Jefferson's receivers with six catches for 100 yards. Damons had three receptions for 84 yards.
Jefferson got the ball right back to start the second quarter and scored again. Dragons receiver Lucas Redd had a 15-yard catch and Tab Martin followed with a 14-yard catch, which set up a 21-yard touchdown pass from Minor to Martin. Redd had two catches for 52 yards. Martin had five catches for 58 yards.
"Darius played very well tonight," Navas added. "That's what he does best is getting the ball to the open receiver and spreads the ball around."
Minor also ran the ball well with eight carries for 84 yards.
Appleby led all Jefferson runners with 24 carries for 107 yards. On the Dragons' final scoring drive, he reeled off a 27-yard run down to the goal line, and scored on the next play.
Offensively, Riverside Military junior running back Julian Suber led the team with 13 carries for 118 yards.
He scored on the game's longest play, a 71-yard run late in the third quarter.
Eagles junior quarterback Lucas Bersin finished 20-for-30 passing for 161 yards and two touchdown passes. He connected with Logan Clemens for a 5-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Junior tight end Brandon McKinney scored on a 5-yard pass in the second.
"Even though we lost tonight, it's a good lesson for our team," Lancaster added. "We just have to learn from it and get better as a team."
Region 8-AA has a bye next week. Jefferson next visits Banks County on Oct. 17 in Homer. Riverside plays at Fannin County that night.