By Charlie Chitwood
NEW BOSTON, Texas – If you follow most formulas for winning a high school football game, you want to (a) hold a 68-36 edge in the number of offensive snaps, (b) out-gain your opponent 397-171 yards in total offense and (c) roll up a 26-12 edge in total first downs.
New Boston’s Lions followed that recipe to the nth degree but it was Antwain Jimmerson’s Jefferson squad that came out on top thanks to a pair of touchdowns by the Bulldog offense and two more “scoop-and-score” fumble recoveries for touchdowns by the defense. Jefferson’s 24-14 victory at New Boston gave the Dawgs a 4-2 record overall but more importantly, a 1-0 mark in District 8-3A.
“That wasn’t one of our best defensive efforts, but we were kinda opportunistic, weren’t we?” said Jimmerson of the tilt. “The New Boston coaches all thought that was the best game they’d played yet.”
Jefferson hardly saw the football in the first half but was down only 14-12 at the break courtesy of one of those opportunistic moments.
New Boston – which allowed the Bulldogs only three first-quarter plays – was driving deep in Jefferson territory again when the ball was knocked free of the running back and picked up by Dee Mitchell. The Dawgs’ safety picked up the ground ball and raced 90 yards in the other direction for a shocking 6-0 lead with 10:37 remaining in the half.
The host Lions finally maintained possession throughout a drive nearly four minutes later and tied the game on quarterback Phillip Sissons’ 10-yard burst. Clay Pace nailed the PAT and New Boston was up 7-6.
Jefferson quickly went back ahead. A solid kickoff return by Cleivland Williams, a 16-yard burst by Damian Hines and then a 36-yard touchdown dash by situational quarterback Kylan Thomas put the Dawgs on the scoreboard again just 43 seconds after the Lions’ grinding scoring drive.
Jefferson’s two-point conversion pass was intercepted in the end zone, but the Bulldogs still had a 12-7 advantage with 6:06 left in the second quarter. That lead dissipated with a little more than two minutes left in the half. Sissons hooked up on a forward pitch to his bruising fullback (6-2, 235-pounds) Deandre Dedmon, who then rambled 14 yards into the end zone for a lead-grabbing touchdown.
Out-gained 221-77 in the first half, Jefferson’s offense mustered enough on the opening drive of the second half to grab an 18-14 lead on Damian Hines’ three-yard burst. Jefferson’s hard-hitting defense continued to contribute to New Boston’s. The Lions’ first two second-half drives both ended in turnovers, the second of which was turned around for a 93- yard touchdown by Kepha Luster just 17 seconds into the final quarter. The Dawgs 24-14 lead at that point would stand the rest of the night.
The Dawgs finished the night with a plus-four in turnovers – the four fumbles plus an interception by Dee Black. Jefferson coughed up the football once but stayed in the game by delivering big hits at the end of New Boston’s plays.
Damian Hines had a hard-earned 68 rushing yards to lead the Bulldogs on the ground, then for good measure had nine tackles defensively. The Dawgs’ defenders welcomed the return of linebacker Tanner Murphy, who managed a whopping 16 tackles (tied with Trace Smith and Cleivland Williams for second behind Josh Kellogg’s 21 stops). Eight different Bulldog defenders reached double-digit tackle totals on a night when they had to play 32 more downs than their offensive counterparts.
“Having Tanner back was a real help,” Jimmerson said. “Those guys played so…
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