Posted: Saturday, September 15th 2012 at 5:39am
Dragons shock North Hall in thriller
By Jeff Hart Staff
Jefferson defenders converge on North Hall running back TJ Tate in the Dragons' 27-21 win at North Hall on Friday.
MURRAYVILLE – Jefferson senior quarterback Bryant Shirreffs admitted there were doubters of the Dragons after a lackluster loss to arch-rival Commerce two weeks ago.
He may have silenced them for good after a brilliant performance Friday night against North Hall.
Shirreffs ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, including the game-winner with 3:31 left, to lead the Dragons to a stunning 27-21 win over the Trojans at The Brickyard.
“We know there are people who doubt us, even in our own school, but we believe in ourselves and we just kept working,” Shirreffs said. “We lost a close game here two years ago so it feels good to pull this one out.”
Shirreffs connected with Chandler Thompson on a 10-yard pass to cap a 62-yard drive to give them the lead. Shirreffs kept the drive alive three times with first down runs on quarterback draws.
That drive started after the Dragons recovered an onside kick after Sammy Williams had pulled Jefferson to within 21-19 on a 3-yard run with 6:15 left in the game.
Despite leaving the Trojans with just over three minutes left and an 80-yard drive, Jefferson (2-1) wasn’t out of the woods. North Hall drove to the Jefferson 17 with seven seconds left and faced a 4th-and-9. Andrew Smith looked stopped on a pitch to the left but cut back to the right to face a wide-open field.
Smith then raced two Jefferson defenders to the end zone but was caught at the Jefferson 2 as time ran out.
“What a finish,” Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said. “I’m kind of stunned how that ended. I can’t say enough about how these guys just kept battling and never gave up. Bryant I think showed what kind of player he is and can be. The defense I thought played a great game, especially in the second half.”
The loss for North Hall (2-1) was the first against Jefferson at The Brickyard since 1973, though the two teams have only played five times since then.
Shirreffs finished with 127 yards rushing and 144 yards passing for the game. He constantly kept the Trojans defense on its heels with designed quarterback draws and short screen passes. Donnie Hatfield had seven catches for 71 yards for Jefferson.
North Hall’s wishbone attack seemed to be wearing down the Dragons late in the third quarter. An interception by Marcus Hulsey at the North Hall goal line sparked a 71-yard drive, capped by a 31-yard scamper from Kevin Christmas for a 21-12 lead.
The Trojans piled up 398 yards rushing for the game behind Christmas, who finished with 180 yards on 21 carries. TJ Tate had 83 yards on eight carries.
The third quarter was a stalemate with both teams mounting long drives but yielding no points. The Trojans drove to the Jefferson 12 but a penalty and a sack forced a 35-yard field goal attempt by Cruz that fell just short. The Dragons drove inside the North Hall 20 but Shirreffs was picked off by Hulsey at the goal line to thwart the drive.
Both teams were able to move the ball in the first quarter but were not able to get into the end zone. The Dragons would force two North Hall fumbles and it was the second turnover late in the first quarter that provided the game’s first break.
The Dragons recovered a Tate fumble at the Trojans’ 16 and Shirreffs ran in from 3-yards out three plays later for a 6-0 lead. The Trojans would answer right back, however.
After forcing a Jefferson punt on three straight incomplete passes, the Trojans’ wishbone got going on their next drive. Tate scampered 45 yards on a series of shifty moves to the Jefferson 20 and Christmas capped the drive four plays later on a 3-yard scoring run for a 14-6 lead with 6:59 left in the first half.
The Dragons would not go away. After a 35-yard kickoff return by Rodney Carr, Shirreffs ran for 20 yards and three plays later connected with Hatfield on a 24-yard pass to the Trojans’ 14. Shirreffs capped the drive with a 4-yard TD run to cut it to 14-12. The Dragons two-point attempt failed and the score stayed that way at halftime.
Jefferson.....0....12....0....15 -- 27
North Hall....0....14....0......7 -- 21
Jeff – Shirreffs 3 run (PAT failed) 11:21, 6-0
NH – Brown 2 run (Cruz kick) 9:39, 7-6
NH – Christmas 3 run (Cruz kick) 6:59, 14-6
Jeff – Shirreffs 4 run (run failed) 3:59, 14-12
NH – Christmas 31 run (Cruz kick) 9:07, 21-12
Jeff – S. Williams 4 run (Schlutow kick) 6:15, 21-19
Jeff – C. Thompson 10 pass from Shirreffs (Shirreffs run) 3:31, 21-27
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