SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — It wasn’t a win. In fact, Jefferson once trailed by four touchdowns in the first half. But then the Cougars limited unbeaten Dunbar (Washington, D. C.) to just one score in its last five possessions and were outscored by only seven points in the second half.
Jefferson actually could take a few positive things from the 35-7 loss it took from the Crimson Tide.
In the second half, Dunbar had its starters in when it couldn’t do much with the Jefferson defense. In the second half, the Dunbar starters couldn’t prevent the 10 first downs and 150 yards of total offense the Cougars managed.
The second half was full of positives. However, it all came after the Crimson Tide had moved along to four straight scores behind the passing leadership of Lamal Matthews and a defense that hadn’t been scored on in the team’s first three games.
After an intercepted pass was returned for Dunbar’s fourth score, the game was basically even. In the last 32 minutes, only two touchdowns could be scored. In all that time, Jefferson had a 13-play drive that consumed 73 yards and gave the Cougars their only points when Andrew King threw five yards to Darrod Doleman.
Just before halftime — and trailing by 20 points — the Cougars had Jordan Hardiman intercept Matthews’ next pass. The last half began with a 10-play drive by the upstart Cougars, but there were no points when King was sacked and fumbled.
Throughout the second half, it was Jefferson with the upper hand for the most part. Dunbar managed another score with a Matthews-led drive where he completed three passes that totaled 55 yards of the 61 yards the move covered.
Other than that drive, Dunbar had two other first downs in the final 24 minutes. In the waning minutes, both sides had their starters on-field when the Cougars put together a clock-chewing 11-play drive that was finally stopped at the Dunbar 10.
With the loss, Jefferson might have been 1-3 overall and going off to play Sherando in Stephens City on Friday. But the Cougars had played a useful second half against the 4-0 Crimson Tide. It was a half where it showed a defense that could stop a pass-oriented offense, and it showed an offense that moved along the ground as well as through the air.
It certainly wasn’t a win. But it was nothing like the Woodgrove and Millbrook games, either.