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September 28, 2013
The Armwood Hawks traveled to Sam Horton Field to take on the Jefferson Dragons in a district 6A-8 showdown. The winner would be in the driver's seat for the district title. This is a rivalry thoroughly dominated for the past decade by the Hawks. However, after a great start to 2013, including convincing victories over district foes Hillsborough and Robinson, the Dragons had good cause for optimism heading into this showdown.
Jefferson grabbed the early momentum. Jefferson QB Deiondre Porter (USF) drove the Dragons deep into Armwood territory. However, they were unable to convert on third down from the Hawks' 16-yard line. The 33-yard field goal attempt by Dragons' kicker Noah Pena was good, giving Jefferson a 3-0 lead with 7:25 left in the first quarter.
On the Hawk's first drive they went three and out. Jefferson then took over on their own 32 yard line and put together a 16 play drive that got Dragons down to Armwood 15 yard line, largely due to the running and scrambling of Porter. However, the Dragons began moving backwards after a holding call and after Mondreas Lofton was dropped for a 5-yard loss on the re-played first down. The drive would stall from this point, as Jefferson threw three straight long passes into the end zone without success. Two of the passes were nearly caught, with Dragons wide-out Derrick Ingram having the ball ripped from his clutches before he could gain conclusive possession in the end zone.
The Hawks again were again stymied by the Jefferson defenses and were only able to sustain a short drive. Jefferson took over early in the second quarter and put together an impressive 86-yard touchdown drive. Lofton and Porter had key runs on the drive, but the drive was highlighted by Porter hooking up with receivers Ventrell Bryant and Chavez Pownell.
Pownell finished the drive with a 20-yard touchdown catch, skillfully weaving through a host of Armwood defenders. The Dragons went for two but were stopped about six inches short. This put the Dragon up 9-0 with 6:24 left in the half. Jefferson was gaining confidence that they could finally hang with the Hawks. This confidence would be short-lived.
After trading ineffective possessions, Armwood took over on its own 20 yard line with 2:21 in the half. Hawks Quarterback Noah Johnson finally came to life. He completed five straight passes - spreading it out to receivers Greg Newton, Talvin Bailey, and Trevor Laurent.
The fifth pass was a short route to Talvin Bailey, who turned on the jets and smoked the Jefferson secondary for a 45-yard touchdown with 45 seconds left in the half. The half ended 9-7 Jefferson, but the Hawks had gained the momentum and left the Dragons wondering about their missed opportunities.
The second half was all Hawks. Bailey took the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. He followed the wedge almost untouched and then broke free around the 45 yard line and was gone. This gave the Hawks a 14-9 lead that they would not relinquish.
On their second possession of the half, the Dragons were pinned back to their two yard line after a great 53-yard punt by the Hawks. The Jefferson drive went nowhere. Bryant almost caught a ball that would have likely resulted in a 98-yard touchdown catch, as he had got behind the Armwood safety, but this near miss was about all of the offense Jefferson would muster in the entire half.
A very poor punt ensued. Armwood took over in Jefferson territory and on 2nd and 6, the Hawks were the benefactors of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Jefferson (one of three in the half against the Dragons). Craig Carrington then pounded the ball down the Jefferson 4-yard line. Newton took it in from a yard out to give the Hawks a 21-9 lead with 2:19 left in the third.
After a big penalty on the Dragons and a long sack by the Hawks, Jefferson again punted from deep in their own territory. The punt was very short and was returned by Armwood all-state defensive lineman Byron Cowart. He was in an up position and picked up the punt, returning it to the Jefferson 4-yard line.
Carrington did the honors from there, gaining three yards on first down and taking the ball into the end zone from a yard out to give the Hawks the last score of the game.