JEFFERSON — A stout Jefferson defense looked like it was going to have to carry the depleted Dragons offense into the second round of the Class 4A playoffs, whether they wanted to or not.
The burden eventually was just too much, however, as Hapeville Charter scored 12 fourth quarter points to stun the fourth-ranked Dragons, 12-10, at Memorial Stadium to knock out one of the pre-playoff favorites before it ever really began.
For three quarters Jefferson held Hapville Charter scoreless while building a 10-0 lead on a Tre Reece 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and a 32-yard Owen Botts field goal in the third quarter.
But the Hornets scored twice in the final 8:33, including the game-winner with just 1:46 left, to rally for the victory.
The Dragons usually unstoppable ground game, which was leading Class 4A coming into the playoffs, managed just 114 yards for the game. Malaki Starks was held to just 1 yard on 3 carries. Jordan Perry paced Jefferson with 47 yards and Reece had 31 yards for Jefferson. However, 11 penalties for 107 yards killed several potential drives as well for the Dragons.