TAMPA — Jefferson was already in a 14-0 hole when things really went south for the Dragons on Friday. An arm injury to quarterback Tyrese Spain dashed any realistic hopes for upsetting Jesuit, which rolled to a 38-7 victory.
Malik Davis ran for 188 yards and two scores while Danny Boon threw for 176 more as the Tigers (12-0) advanced to the region final for the third time in the last four seasons. Jesuit will host Fort Myers Dunbar (10-2).
Davis had 159 yards on 19 carries by halftime, getting it just three more times. He broke a 74-yard touchdown on the game's third play and his heads-up, somewhat risky move led to a 21-0 lead at the break.
Jefferson had done a decent job of slowing Davis for two drives but, shortly after his fourth-down conversion run, Davis chased down a fumble deep in the backfield and rather than fall on it, scooped and took off 30 yards to the 1. He easily scored on the next play, ending a 92-yard drive after Jefferson's Jose Motta had pinned the Tigers deep with a 56-yard punt.
"I saw the ball and picked it up, no hesitation. That's the first time that's ever happened to me," said Davis, who went over 2,000 yards for the season with 26 touchdowns.
Spain hit Antonio Nunn for 52 yards on Jefferson's first play of the night but on fourth and short from the 14 the Dragons (5-7) missed a field goal. Jesuit went on a 14-play, 80-yard drive featuring two fourth-down conversions and a bruising 20-yard TD run from Rey Riveros out of the Wildcat, making the score 14-0.
Late in the first quarter Spain — who was 4-for-4 passing — landed awkwardly after trying to scramble away from linebacker Zack Quilty. Preliminary indications from Jefferson coaches were that Spain broke his arm.
Sophomore Matt Gaffney went 8-of-16 for 58 yards in relief and the Dragons did not score until the running clock was in effect. Mondreas Lofton's 41-yard run helped set up his 15-yard TD scamper and the senior ended with 100 yards from scrimmage.
When it was 14-0 Jefferson senior Jackie Davis (6-7, 225) had some strong hits as the Dragons forced consecutive three-and-outs but eventually Malik Davis wore them out. His 23-yard run early in the second half set up Boon's 34-yard TD to tight end Nick Rausch. Cam Bauman added a 36-yard field goal and Travell Harris ended the third quarter with an 85-yard TD run.
Boon found seven different receivers in going 13-of-17 for 176 yards. Sophomore Kendrick Torain had four catches for 43 yards, all in the first half. The Tigers totaled 510 yards.
"Our running game opens up the pass. To me Boon is very underrated," Davis said.