By CHARLES PHELPS
For The Paper
JEFFERSON — As the No. 1 seed and having home field advantage through the first two rounds of the state-playoffs, the Jefferson Dragons wanted to take advantage of what they had earned in the regular season and ride through round one.
By a score of 42-8, the Jefferson Dragons (10-1, No. 1 Region 8-AA) defeated the Kendrick Cherokees 5-6, No. 4 Region 5-AA) Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
With the win, Jefferson host Westminster, which shut out Pepperell, 34-0, on Friday night in Jefferson.
“We were worried because they’re so big on offense. They got great running backs,” Jefferson head coach T McFerrin said.
“They just ran over us the first quarter. We couldn’t stop them,” said McFerrin. “I didn’t feel good, even at halftime.” So changes were in order.
Jefferson quarterback Bryant Shirreffs led the Dragons’ offense throwing for 79 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for 83 yards.
“Our offense was good. We adjusted, made some changes at halftime and played pretty good. I was really proud of them,” McFerrin said.
Jefferson running back Tristen Jackson helped Shirreffs and the Dragons, rushing for 49 yards and two touchdowns. He had two receptions for 25 yards and another touchdown as well. Sammy Williams added 62 yards rushing and one touchdown for the Dragons’ ground-attack.
“We wanted to come out fast; we knew they were athletic, and we knew if they were lingering around they could come out and win,” Jackson said. “We wanted to smash them early and take their hope away.”
The Dragons’ defense held the Cherokees’ offense to 142 total yards, and they didn’t allow a completed pass.
“Our defense played much better the second half. I was proud of that,” McFerrin said.
Kendrick running back Brandon Wade rushed for a game-high 101 yards and scored Kendrick’s only touchdown.
Shirreffs started the scoring for the Dragons’ offense with his arm, connecting with tight end Donnie Hatfield on a 14-yard touchdown score with 9:01 left in the first quarter.
Then Jackson took over for the Dragons; diving in from the 1-yard line, giving Jefferson a 14-0 lead with 5:43 left in the first quarter.
The Cherokees’ offense heated up and got on the board behind Wade. He scored on a 1-yard run. Instead of kicking the extra-point, the Cherokees opted for a 2-point attempt and were successful after running back Jamar Comar pounded it in from the 3-yard line. The lead was 14-8 after the first quarter.
The Dragons responded, going on a 28-0 run to end the game, when Jackson scored his second touchdown of the game. This time on a 22-yard run with 8:50 left in the second quarter.
Williams scored his touchdown with 1:32 left in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the Shirreffs brothers both throw a touchdown. Bryant found Jackson for a 20-yard score. His brother, Evan, found Dalton Hill for a 23-yard score.
The evening after Thanksgiving, Jefferson host Westminster.
Coach McFerrin said, “It sure beats traveling. It’s nice to win the region and be the No. 1 seed because you have homefield (advantage).”