By Charlie Chitwood
LINDALE, Texas – The preseason consensus among prep football prognosticators was that Antwain Jimmerson’s Bulldogs weren’t even going to make the schoolboy playoffs this season. Week by week, however, Jefferson not only proved it could hang with a list of rugged opponents but shocked East Texas with a convincing victory over then fourth-ranked White Oak, essentially claiming the District 8-3A crown with a week to go in the regular season.
All that magic came to end in Lindale, however, when Howe’s Bulldogs put a stop to Jefferson’s quick-strike magic and churned out a 31-7 victory at Lindale’s Eagle Stadium. The loss ended the season for Marion County’s Bulldogs at 9-3 while Howe advances to the regional round with a date against Mineola.
Howe’s Bulldogs did their damage on the ground, racking up 400 yards of rushing offense on 59 carries and limiting Jefferson to only 38 offensive snaps – a mere 13 plays in the second half.
The two teams slugged it out through a scoreless first quarter before Howe drew first blood. Tyler Grisham – Howe’s bellcow on the night – blasted over the goal line from three yards out to set up a 7-0 lead with 7:38 remaining in the first half.
Jefferson would show some offensive moxie on its very next possession, knotting up the game at 7-7 on Trey Hodge’s 24-yard run and Landon Fuquay’s PAT with 5:29 remaining, but the Dawgs’ ability to answer Howe touchdowns ended there.
Just 12 seconds later, Howe’s Andrew Griffin raced 75 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead. That lead would grow to 17-7 as time expired when Brice Honaker nailed a 30-yard field goal. Howe set up the 10-point halftime lead by completing it’s only pass attempt of the night – a halfback pass from Brandon Wall to Ty Harvey that set up the silver-and-black Bulldogs at Jefferson’s 23 yard line.
Jefferson couldn’t make anything happen in its first drive of the second half and after recovering a Howe fumble, was stopped on fourth-and-short. Howe then commenced on a drive that counted six first downs and more than nine minutes of clock time before ending in the Jefferson end zone on Griffin’s second scoring jaunt from four yards away at the 9:21 mark of the game. Howe scored once more with 4:28 left on Grisham’s two-yard dive to make it 31-7.
Jefferson’s Bulldogs – held to 127 first-half yards – managed just 27 more yards in the decisive second half and found Howe had answers…
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