By CHARLIE CHITWOOD
Jefferson’s Bulldogs certainly found themselves in a scrap last week at Mt. Vernon, but Antwain Jimmerson’s squad overcame some extra home-town “hospitality” and left Don Meredith Stadium with a 20-14 victory over a key competitor for the District 7-3A crown.
The Dawgs improved to 7-0 on the year and remain in a tie atop District 7-3A with Atlanta, where the Rabbits had a rugged pre-district schedule but have won their first three district games. Mt. Vernon – a two-round playoff team from a year before – still has plenty of firepower but doomed itself in the second half with too-methodical a pace of play that ate a clock they needed in the end.
That these two teams fought hard afield was characterized most by the game’s second half. Jefferson managed a 20-0 halftime lead fueled in part by Mt. Vernon turnovers. The Bulldog defense had plenty to do with some of those turnovers, but Mt. Vernon’s defense responded in the second half and limited Jefferson to just nine plays from scrimmage. The Tigers, meanwhile, steadily ground up the field and to their later chagrine the clock, getting within a touchdown and successful PAT of grabbing a 21-20 lead.
Jefferson’s defense stepped up huge on some key Tiger conversion plays and made the ultimate difference in the game. As chippy as some of the play on the field was, the post-game handshake took a turn for which we all ought to be proud. Jimmerson pulled aside his counterpart, Mt. Vernon skipper Josh Finney, off to the side and suggested getting the two teams together at midfield. The point, Jimmerson said afterward, “was for our guys to recognize the valiant effort put forth by our opponent and to let them know we honor that competitive effort.”
Jimmerson dismissed any of the on-field antics by both teams as “heat of the battle” moments, but was especially proud of the way his squad persevered. “Instead of just shaking hands and heading to the locker rooms, we want these guys to know each other and respect each other, win or lose,” Jimmerson said. “That we shared such a thing might not have been what was expected before up there( in Mt. Vernon). It was a good thing for both squads.”
The Bulldogs may be forgiven if they actually root for Mt. Vernon Friday night in Atlanta. The Purple Tigers need a victory over Atlanta to have a shot at the district’s second playoff seed while Jefferson rests up for a home tilt with the same Rabbits next Friday night. Atlanta’s currently ranked sixth in Class 3A, Region II by PigskinPrep.com while Mt. Vernon is next – the Rabbits are likely glad to be playing at home.
Jefferson’s Lady Bulldog volleyball is winding things down and currently winding up the regular season with Saturday’s varsity-only match at Tatum and then Tuesday evening’s Senior/Parent Night matchup with Hughes Springs. JV matches for the Tuesday games start at 4:30 p.m.
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