Tuesday September 26th, 2017 5:17AM

Shirreffs, defense help Dragons make history

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
  Contact Editor
JEFFERSON -- There were several points of history made by Jefferson Friday night in its 35-7 win over Westminster in the second round of the Class AA playoffs.

But only one mattered to Dragons' coach T. McFerrin.

"We get to keep playing and no team from Jefferson has gotten this far in a while," he said. "The kids talked all week about wanting to make history and they did. I'm happy for them."

Jefferson's win pushes the Dragons into the quarterfinals for the first time since 1977 and it was the 11th straight win, tying the second-longest streak in school history. The Dragons last won 11 straight in 2009.

Jefferson (11-1) next will play host to Fitzgerald, which beat Vidalia 52-20 on Friday on the road.

While senior quarterback Bryant Shirreffs was ripping up the Westminster defense for 248 yards rushing and 81 yards passing and four combined touchdowns, it was the Jefferson defense that really made the biggest statement.

The seven points was the fewest points allowed in a playoff game by Jefferson since a 28-6 win over East Atlanta in 1975. The Dragons held the Wildcats, which came in hot averaging 30 points a game over the past month, to just 171 total yards. Nearly half came in the fourth quarter when Jefferson emptied its bench with a big lead.

"The defense played outstanding. The only thing they gave up came on a short field after the turnover. I think they were the difference," McFerrin said. "I really like how they have played the last few games."

Jefferson has yielded just 46 points over its past eight games.

Shirreffs basically had his way with the Westminster defense. He scored on runs of 1, 56, and 33 but it was a 71 yard run down the sidelines that blew the game open. The Dragons led just 14-7 at the time and were deep in their own territory when he found a seam and took off. They scored two plays later and you could see the air come out of the Westminster bench.

"They were stacking the line all night so once you got past the first line it was open," he said. "We had a different play called but it wasn't there and I just saw an opening on the right side and took it. You could tell that kind of deflated them."

Shirreffs said he hopes this will be the game that propels them to even bigger heights.

"To get this far when no one has in a long time is huge for us. We really just look at the next game but I think we're getting good enough to think we could win it all. We definitely want to keep making history," he said.

Things started ominously for Jefferson, however.

Shirreffs connected with McKay Dickens on a quick 12-yard pass on the opening play. But Dickens was stripped and the Wildcats picked up the loose ball and returned it to the Dragons' 22. Four plays later Cameron Seward gave Westminster a stunning and quick 7-0 lead just two minutes into the game.

But Shirreffs got the offense going and the Jefferson defense took over from there. Shirreffs dominated the Wildcats defense rushing for 152 yards and passing for 42 yards and one touchdown in the first half and engineered three long scoring drives for a 21-7 lead.

Shirreffs would tie the game with a 1-yard run to cap a 15-play, 80 yard drive and then he gave them the lead for good with a 12-yard TD pass to Dickens to cap a 10-play, 58-yard drive early in the second quarter

Shirreffs would set up the final Jefferson touchdown in the half with his 71-yard sprint down the sideline to the Westminster 4. Sammy Williams finished off the drive with a 4-yard TD run for a 21-7 lead.

Meanwhile, the Jefferson defense stiffened after the initial Westminster drive. The Dragons allowed just three first downs 54 total yards over the final 22 minutes of the first half. They harassed Westminster's Jake Forte the entire half with blitzes forcing the junior into a modest 4-for-9 passing for just 27 yards.

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