By SHELIA LANGBARTELS, O.D.
Jefferson’s history-making season came to a close with a 31-21 loss to Malakoff in the Area Round of the 3A-Division 1 playoffs. The Tigers kept the ball away from the explosive Bulldog offense, allowing Jefferson only 2 possessions in the first half. Malakoff burned over eight and a half minutes off the clock on their first drive, which resulted in a Tiger touchdown. Jefferson’s first offensive series resulted in a punt, and the Dawgs trailed for the first time all year, 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Malakoff led another sustained drive in the second quarter and scored, increasing their lead to 14-0 with 3:35 left in the first half. The Bulldog offense immediately went to work from their own 25-yard line. Trey Hodge got the ball to K’Von Smith, who crossed the 50. The ball was stripped, but landed directly in the hands of Bulldog Dee Black, who took the ball into the end zone for the first Jefferson score of the game. Landon Fuquay’s PAT was good, and the Dawgs closed the gap to 14-7 with 3:20 left in the half. Malakoff once again drove down the field, making it to the Jefferson 4-yard line. The Dawg defense kept the Tigers out of the end zone, but Malakoff kicked a field goal while time was expiring. The Tigers took a 17-7 lead into halftime.
After the kickoff to begin the third quarter, Black broke loose for a 62-yard run inside the 20. A couple plays later, he dashed into the end zone for his second score of the game. Fuquay added the point after, and the Dawgs tightened the score to 17-14. Following defensive stops by both teams, Malakoff scored on a long pass play to stretch their lead to 24-14 at the end of the third quarter.
The Tigers scored their final touchdown of the night with 6:59 left in the game. They then forced a Bulldog punt, but the Dawg defense held tight. Jefferson took over on their own 22, and Hodge completed passes to Lyrik Rawls, TQ Jackson, and K’Von Smith to put the Dawgs in scoring position. Hodge passed to Smith for a Bulldog touchdown, and Fuquay added a PAT with only 28 seconds left in the game. The resulting 31-21 score sends Malakoff to the Regional game where they will match up with Gladewater.
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