By SHELIA LANGBARTELS, O.D.
The Jefferson Bulldogs shocked the Atlanta Rabbits in a 56-21 routing on Friday night. In what was arguably the most hyped game of the season, the Bulldogs dominated their district rival to effectively clinch the District 7-3A championship. Jefferson racked up 565 yards of total offense (422 rushing, 143 passing) while holding Atlanta to 270 yards (150 rushing, 120 passing).
Jefferson kicked off to Atlanta to start the game, and the Dawg defense immediately went to work. They allowed two yards on first down, no gain on second down, and a tackle for loss on third down, forcing Atlanta to punt on their opening series. In true Bulldog fashion, Jefferson scored on their first offensive play of the game. The offensive line gave Dee Black plenty of running room as he sprinted 74 yards for a touchdown. Landon Fuquay added a PAT to give Jefferson the lead, 7-0 with 10:16 left in the first quarter. The Rabbits began driving and got into the red zone, but Brennan Varnell tackled a Rabbit receiver for a loss of three yards on the next play. However, Atlanta found the end zone with 4:13 left in the first quarter. Their PAT was good, making the score 7-7. Jefferson punted on their next series, and the Rabbits took over on their own 17 to end the quarter.
On Atlanta’s first offensive series of the second quarter, the Bulldogs had a couple fantastic tackles for loss, backing the Rabbits up to their own 7-yard line. They punted, and the Dawg offense started on the 34-yard line in Rabbit territory. Quarterback Trey Hodge was under pressure, but he shoveled the ball to TQ Jackson to gain a first down. Kylan Thomas rushed for five yards, and then Hodge found Jackson wide open in the end zone for a touchdown. Fuquay’s PAT increased Jefferson’s lead to 14-7 with 7:28 left in the first half. Fuquay’s kickoff and the speedy Bulldog special teams unit backed Atlanta up to their own 11-yard
line. After a tackle for loss by Trace Smith and a couple of incomplete passes, the Rabbits punted. The Dawgs took over on offense, and Black busted straight through the Atlanta defense for a 43-yard touchdown run. Fuquay tacked on a PAT to give Jefferson a 21-7 advantage with 5:48 left in the half. Following the kickoff, the Rabbit defense went three-and-out, thanks in part to a spectacular tackle for loss by Malik Cannon. Jefferson’s offense took over on the 50, and Hodge threw a beautiful pass to Thomas for a first down on the Rabbit 37. Eric Gipson then took the ball around the end for a gain of eight yards. Hodge completed a pass to Jackson to the 25-yard line, and then found Jackson once again for a Bulldog touchdown. Fuquay notched another PAT to make the score 28-7 with 2:44 left in the second quarter. Atlanta was unable to score on their next possession, and Jefferson took a 28-7 lead into halftime.
Both teams ended up punting on their first offensive series of the third quarter, but on Jefferson’s next possession, Hodge took a keeper close to Atlanta territory. He then handed off to Tybo Williams, who blew by the Atlanta defense on his way to another Bulldog touchdown. After the Fuquay PAT, Jefferson took a 35-7 lead with 5:25 left in the third quarter. The Dawg defense was strong on Atlanta’s next possession, forcing them to punt back to Jefferson. The Bulldogs took over on their own 11-yard line, but Williams sped up the field to the Jefferson 45 on the first down play. After a short loss on a sack, Hodge completed a 57-yard touchdown pass to Jackson. Fuquay’s PAT gave the Dawgs a 42-7 lead with 2:45 left in the quarter. Following the kickoff, the Bulldog defense dominated the Rabbits, with Varnell and Kannon Glover sharing a spectacular tackle for loss. Atlanta’s quarterback dropped back for a pass, but Trace Smith intercepted it, returning the ball to the Rabbit 42-yard line. Black ran for 7 yards, and then Hodge called his own number for a first down to the 29. Hodge completed a pass to K’Von Smith for a short gain, and then Black ran 26 yards to the end zone. Following Fuquay’s PAT, Jefferson’s lead increased to 49-7 with eight seconds left in the third.
Atlanta scored a touchdown on their first possession of the fourth quarter. They made the two-point conversion, making the score 49-15 with 8:26 left in the game. Bryson Johnson had an 18-yard kickoff return to the Jefferson 39-yard line, and then his brother Travon rushed to the Rabbit 21. After a penalty on the Dawgs, Williams rushed 26 yards for his second touchdown of the game. Fuquay completed his perfect night with a PAT, giving Jefferson a 56-15 advantage with 7:58 left on the clock. The Rabbits had a nice kickoff return and started their offensive series on their own 42. After a sustained drive, Atlanta found the end zone once again and added a PAT with 2:20 left in the game. Jefferson ran out the clock and took a decisive 56-21 district win over the Rabbits.
The Bulldogs will travel to Hooks next week, November 2. Game time is 7:30 P.M.
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