TAMPA — Chamberlain certainly didn’t make it easy.
In fact, to hear Jefferson coach Jeremy Earle tell it, the Chiefs came out and punched his team right in the mouth.
But by the time the scuffle ended, Jefferson was still standing, the owner of a 28-24 win and a berth in the postseason.
“We knew going in that this (game) was the one,” said Earle, whose team improved to 7-1 overall, 6-1 in Class 6A, District 8. “And they knew it too. They gave us all we wanted. Chamberlain has a great team.”
Will Shidler’s 50-yard field goal with less than four minutes left put the Chiefs ahead 24-22. But in a game that had four lead changes, one more was coming.
Jefferson’s standout senior quarterback Deiondre Porter led a 60-yard drive, capping it with a 22-yard touchdown to wideout Ventell Bryant. Porter had 108 yards passing and two touchdowns, both to Bryant, and 93 yards and a score rushing.
The Chiefs’ backfield duo of quarterback Josh Bennett (125 yards rushing) and running back Nick McNeal (105) had their way early. McNeal galloped for a 73-yard score in the second quarter and Bennett had a 12-yard TD to James A. Martin. In the third, Chiefs cornerback DJ Daniel scooped up a Porter fumble and returned it 24 yards for a score.
The teams traded leads again to start the fourth on Porter’s 1-yard run and Shidler’s field goal.
“It’s the same guys we count on in pressure situations and they performed in those situations tonight like they are supposed to,” Earle said. “It’s a tribute to the whole team, the way they prepare and the kind of kids they are.
“We’re proud of them.”