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Posted: Saturday, August 23rd 2014 at 11:00am

New-look offense propels Dragons over Rabun (VIDEO)

By Jeff Hart Staff
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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Jefferson's TJ Skelton eyes in a leaping catch in the Dragons' win over Rabun County on Friday in Jefferson.
JEFFERSON -- The demise of the Jefferson offense may have been just a tad premature.

Evan Shirreffs, Sammy Williams, and Dalton Hill used the season-opener against rival Rabun County Friday night as their own personal showcase for Region 8-AAA.

The Dragons piled up 503 total yards, scored on five straight possessions in the first half, and ran away with a stunning 50-14 win at Memorial Stadium in a game many expected to be as close as last year’s overtime thriller between the two foes.

Even Jefferson coach Ben Hall admitted he was anxious to see how the new-look offense, sporting two new running backs, a quarterback coming back from injury, and a rebuilt line, would respond against a Wildcats team expected to challenge for the Region 8-AA title

“We had some changes and I liked what I saw from the offense early,” Hall said. “Even though we had a big second quarter [22 points], we made a lot of mistakes we won’t be able to make down the road. Overall I was pleased but we have plenty to work on.”

The Dragons defense was not to be outdone forcing three Rabun County turnovers and effectively shutting down preseason All-State selection Charlie Woerner, who was limited to just 79 yards receiving and one touchdown catch on four receptions.

“I feel we’re going to be pretty good on defense and they made some big plays,” Hall said. “I think the heat played a little factor for them because they had so many going both ways. But (Rabun’s) going to be a good team all year.”

Williams was the early star for the Dragons piling up 59 yards in the first half and scoring on consecutive possessions to give them a quick 14-0 lead less than nine minutes into the game.

Hill also had a huge first half catching, a 45-yard pass from Shirreffs to set up Williams first score and then adding a 7-yard TD run in the second quarter. He also contributed to a Dragons’ defensive safety, pinning Rabun County on its 1-yard line late in the half with a beautiful punt. Cooper Young tackled a Rabun ballcarrier in the end zone on the next play.

Hill then scored the Dragons final touchdown of the half on a 55-yard pass from Shireffs where he outraced a Rabun defender the final 30 yards.

“Dalton did have a good game,” Hall said about Hill’s first half. “That’s the kind of play we need all season from him.”

Jefferson's Gage Lawson also booted field goals of 18- and 28-yards in the first half.

Rabun County could not get untracked in the early going. The Wildcats had three punts and two turnovers in their first five possessions. Jefferson took advantage of both mistakes to build the quick lead.

Their first turnover came after Collin Grant connected with Woerner on a 48-yard pass to the Dragons 27. But Grant was picked off by Tradd Porter on the next play and it took just three plays for Jefferson to cash in on the takeaway.

The second Rabun turnover came after the Wildcats had stopped the Dragons at the 1 and held them to a Lawson field goal. But two plays later Jefferson's Maverick McKinney slammed into Grant, knocking the ball loose for Trent Sorrells to recover at the Rabun 8. Hill scored on the next play to make it 24-0.

The Wildcats lone bright spots came when they blocked a Hill punt and then Grant and Woerner connected for a 19-yard TD pass on the next play. Dawson Hendricks scored from 6-yards out with 3:04 left in the game for their other score.

“You can’t make mistakes like that against a team as good as Jefferson,” Rabun County coach Lee Shaw said. “That first turnover kind of took the wind out of us a little and we never recovered. We did some good things but we also have a lot to work on. Our goal is to learn each week and get better and more prepared for the region.”

The Jefferson offense picked up right where it left off in the third quarter. The Dragons went 75 yards in three minutes, highlighted by a 34-yard pass from Shirreffs to Hill to the Rabun 1. Colby Wood scored one-play later for a 43-7 lead.

The starters then came out of the game for both teams as the reserves finished the final 16 minutes.

Shirreffs finished with 253 yards passing. Williams had 61 yards and two touchdowns, Wood added 107 yards rushing and two scores, and Hill had 139 yards receiving and seven yards rushing and scored twice.

Rabun County’s offense managed 225 total yards, 113 passing and 112 rushing with most of that coming in the second half.

Young had a huge game on defense for Jefferson. The senior defensive back finished with 12 tackles, 10 solo, one tackle for loss, a safety, an interception, and two pass break-ups in just over one half of work.

SCORING SUMMARY
Rabun Co.......0......7....0....7 -- 14
Jefferson.....14.....22....7....7 -- 50

First Quarter
JEF -- Williams 3 run (Lawson kick) 7-0, 7:02
JEF -- Williams 8 run (Lawson kick) 14-0, 3:43

Second Quarter
JEF -- Lawson 18 FG 17-0, 11:04
JEF -- Hill 7 run (Lawson kick) 24-0, 8:56
JEF -- Hill 55 pass from Shireffs (Lawson kick) 31-0, 7:39
RC -- Woerner 19 pass from Grant (Hernandez kick) 31-7, 3:40
JEF -- Young safety 33-7, 1:42
JEF -- Lawson 28 FG 36-7, 0:06

Third Quarter
JEF -- Wood 1 run (Lawson kick) 43-7, 6:07

Fourth Quarter
JEF -- Wood 11 run (Lawson kick) 50-7, 11:10
RC -- Hendricks 6 run (Hernandez kick) 50-14, 3:04
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