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Jefferson High routs Gainesville, 33-3, in second-ever meeting
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Jefferson High's Garmon Randolph gets the ball knocked away in the end zone by Gainesville High's Jarred Rosser Friday night during the second quarter of their game at City Park Stadium. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Jefferson High football team proved Friday night that others can shine in the spotlight just as much as star running back Colby Wood.

Senior quarterback Bryce Moore threw for 217 yards and a pair of touchdowns and added another score on the ground as the Dragons recorded a 33-3 win against Gainesville at City Park Stadium in Gainesville. It was the second-ever meeting between the two programs.

For the final two quarters, the Dragons (4-1) were without the talents of their Wood, who exited the game right before intermission with an apparent ankle injury. But Moore, among others in the backfield, picked up the slack to built up a 20-0 lead at halftime and eventually total 436 yards of offense despite three turnovers.

Justin Cole stepped up at fullback and even saw some touches at tailback , racking up 99 yards 19 carries. After Moore’s 5-yard rushing touchdown that concluded a six-minute drive in the final quarter, sophomore Donsha Gaither (70 rushing yards) added a 46-yard scamper and a 3-yard scoring plunge for the knockout punch with 3 minutes, 12 seconds left to play. 

Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart attributed the win to the guys who stepped up in Wood’s place, as well as his team exploiting Gainesville’s commitment to stacking the box against the run. The first-year coach was also happy to come away with a win against a team resurfacing from back-to-back off weeks and following an emotional win against his close friend and predecessor, Flowery Branch coach Ben Hall.

“It took a little while for our guys to adjust,” Cathcart said. “We pass-protected fairly well. (Gainesville) did a good job defending the run a bit early, but Bryce Stepped up and made some good plays for us when we needed him to.”

“What you hope to be, what you aspire to be in a championship offense, you’re able to run the football when you dictate it. But then in times where people stack the box like we talked about all summer, we want to be able to win games throwing the football. Our receiving corps is very talented.”

Cathcart said Wood should be good to go for region play.

Gainesville coach Bruce Miller emphasized the importance of establishing some moxie on offense moving forward. He just may have found his feature back for the seasons to come in freshman Montavious Tabor, who led the backfield with 133 yards on 16 carries to lead of a 219-yard rushing outing against a stout Jefferson front seven. 

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Gainesville High's Tyriq Kabir carries the ball for the Red Elephants for a big gain Friday night during the first half of their game with Jefferson High at City Parks Stadium. - photo by Scott Rogers

Chandler Watson (107 total yards) and freshman Robert Reisman (9 of 10, 58 yards) called the shots under center for the Red Elephants (1-3) in place of junior Tre’ Luttrell, who was held out for the second straight game with a shoulder injury he sustained against Alpharetta on Aug. 25. 

But the Red Elephants couldn’t find a way to turn that positive yardage into points. They were held to just nine first downs for the contest in their third consecutive loss.

“You’re down to our freshman quarterback (Reisman), who did a great job for us. But you just can’t do that against a good team,” Miller said. “I thought Robert did a great job going in there, and I thought Montavious — I don’t know how many yards rushing he had — (ran well). That’s a freshman running back, and the future’s there. It just doesn’t show on the scoreboard.”

Miller hopes to build on the small success running the ball and to have Luttrell back at 100 percent before the start of region play, which begins against Habersham Central on Oct. 6.

“We’re looking to play in the region, and don’t get me wrong, we want to win every game we play,” Miller said. “But this comes down to region play. Hopefully we’ll get (Tre’) back next week.”

Gainesville junior defensive back Rassie Littlejohn recorded three takeaways on defense, while senior kicker Christian Jaimes converted a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter to account for Gainesville’s only points.

Wood was held to 29 yards on nine carries before his early departure, but the Dragons relied on their aerial attack to built up a comfortable lead behind Moore, who racked up 171 yards on 9 of 17 attempts despite tossing two interceptions to Littlejohn. Littlejohn later added a strip and fumble recovery midway through the third quarter to dismiss a promising drive that saw Jefferson march inside the Gainesville 20-yard line.

The Dragons found the board in a matter of minutes on a nine-play drive fronted by Wood’s hard-nosed carries and capped by a Moore touchdown pass to tight end Garmon Randolph (four catches, 41 yards). Moore hit his 6-foot-6, 220-pound teammate on an inside slant to grant Jefferson a lead it never relinquished.

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Jefferson High's Sammy Elegreet hauls in a pass for the Dragons late in the second quarter Friday night during their game with Gainesville High at City Park Stadium. - photo by Scott Rogers

Moore struck again on the Dragons’ third drive, rolling out to his right on fourth and 11 and throwing across his body to find Wood for a 31-yard catch-and-run score. Wood caught Moore’s heave in stride and sprinted down the visitors’ sideline to give Jefferson a two-touchdown lead at the 10:38 mark of the second quarter. 

A 65-yard completion from Moore to wideout Zac Corbin off of play-action set up Wood for his only rushing score of the contest, a 4-yard stroll up the middle untouched for a 20-0 lead minutes later.

The Red Elephants outgained the Dragons on the ground 146-81 for the first two quarters. The Red Elephants even got as close as Jefferson’s 30-yard line before about four minutes before halftime but were stuffed for a loss on fourth and 1 for the game’s first turnover on downs.

Jefferson hosts Madison County next, while Gainesville moves on to play at Marist in a non-region game. Both games will be a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday.