Football returns and Cougars overcome Millbrook
A new scoreboard, a new quarterback and the ability to forget its mistakes were on display as Jefferson opened its football season with a 25-13 win over equally mistake-prone Millbrook last Friday in Shenandoah Junction.
The anticipated sequel to last year’s Jefferson playoff season had the expected crowd coming to see what both teams might have for their followers in 2015. But those in attendance couldn’t have predicted that the Cougars would lose six turnovers, miss three extra point attempts and a field goal and botch a snap on one extra point try and still prevail by more than a touchdown.
But Millbrook was in just as friendly a giving mood as the Cougars.
The Pioneers, coming off a 3-7 record last season, also lost six turnovers and were penalized 11 times for 108 yards.
Although it was pierced for two lengthy scoring passes, it was the Jefferson defense that gradually became the difference in the game.
And the Cougar special teams were able to block a punt and also recover a Millbrook muff when the Cougars punted themselves.
With an unusual open date here in the season’s second week, Jefferson might welcome the circumstance because wide receiver Christian Johnson was helped off the field three different times with an injured leg. Even with his recurring problems, Johnson was able to wade through tacklers for an 85-yard punt-return score that made Jefferson’s precarious five-point lead move to a 19-7 advantage early in the third period.
Possibly the game’s most pivotal play came with just three seconds remaining before halftime when the Cougars, trailing by a point, scored on a nine-yard run by first-year quarterback James King. Johnson had caught a 41-yard pass from King to set up the go-ahead points.
After Millbrook quarterback Mark Paxton found Ed Kier with a 46-yard touchdown pass, the Pioneers were only trailing by six points.
Jefferson was able to breathe easier when it recovered a fumble of one of its punts on the Pioneer 23 . . . and then score for the final time on an accurate eight-yard King pass that moved its lead to 25-13.
In the fourth quarter, Jefferson lost two intercepted passes, but intercepted two of Paxton’s throws and recovered another fumble.
The game’s final play was seemingly appropriate when the Cougars intercepted Millbrook’s final gasp of a pass.
In any season opener, mistakes are the norm.
Jefferson committed its share of football sins, but had the confidence to rely on its run-stopping defense and the sporatic flashes of offensive help from King to ease past the visiting Pioneers.