Two quick plays in second half enable Dragons to build on early lead and pull away from Robinson for a 38-14 victory.
By KEITH NIEBUHR
Published October 16, 2004
TAMPA - Jefferson coach Mike Simmonds didn't care what the score was.
His squad needed a peptalk.
So despite having a 10-point halftime lead over rival Robinson on Friday night, Simmonds treated it as if the Dragons were behind.
Inside the locker room, he gave the players two pieces of advice: Forget about being ahead and play with a sense of urgency.
"We really wanted them to come out of the blocks in the second half," Simmonds said. "When you're playing for the playoffs, it's desperation."
Did the talk work?
You be the judge.
On the second play of the third quarter, Jefferson's Josh Walker intercepted a Marcello Trigg pass and returned it to the Robinson 1. Then, less than a minute after going up by 17, the Jefferson defense struck again with a fumble recovery at the Knights' 4.
Just like that, it was 31-7.
Game. Set. Match.
Final score: 38-14.
"Those two plays crushed us," Trigg said. "That won (Jefferson) the game. We were in it at the half."
Jefferson (5-2, 2-0 in Class 3A, District 10) arguably played its most complete game of the season.
The Dragons' defense held Robinson mostly in check while forcing two turnovers. The offense, led by the running of Alex Suber and passing of Steven Garcia, clicked for much of the night.
Suber, who finished with 140 rushing yards on 11 carries, started things off in a big way by breaking free for an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
"I got the ball and my eyes got big," Suber said. "My fullback blew up their linebacker, and the linemen were getting pancakes."
Garcia passed for 211 yards, 90 going to Miles Anderson and 73 to Tertavian Ingram. The line was key to Jefferson's balance, giving Garcia plenty of time to make plays while opening holes for Suber and Co. The solid run-pass mix kept Robinson off-balance.
"We're all really excited," Dragons offensive guard Frank Gil said. "We're playing harder, and we're playing better. We're a lot more united."
Robinson showed some fight, but the third-quarter turnovers were too much to overcome. The Knights (5-2, 1-2) went punch for punch with Jefferson in the first quarter, and still were well within reach at the start of the third. The turnovers changed all of that.
"That really was a heartbreaker," Robinson coach Mike DePue said. "You can't give a team like Jefferson 14 points and expect to pull the game out."