TAMPA — It certainly wasn't easy, but Jefferson pulled out a 28-17 injury-riddled win over Newsome in Friday's kickoff classic. The Dragons surrendered 17 straight points after once leading 14-0 late in the second quarter. Touchdowns midway through the fourth quarter carried Jefferson to victory.
Key plays: With 4:57 left to play, the Dragons were backing themselves up with multiple penalties. Then speedy athlete Dontavius Smith caught a Matt Gaffney short pass and took it 20 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Dewayne Godwin sealed the win with a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown roughly four minutes later.
Key drives: Multiple times in the game, the sides swapped turnovers. The first set came in the opening quarter when Jefferson's Jarod Gunn broke into the backfield to force a fumble that he recovered. Two plays later, Kanaan Jones reeled in an interception for Newsome. Fast forward to late in the third quarter and Chris Pratt hauled in a tipped interception for the Wolves. On the very next play, Deandre Hollins had an interception of his own.
Stars of the game: Smith became unleashed for the Dragons in the second half. He combined for 118 yards and the game-winning score on four catches. … Jefferson's Jermaine Eskridge added two grabs for 73 yards before exiting with a broken arm and being sent to the hospital early in the third quarter. … Gunn totaled seven tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for Jefferson. … Newsome was led by all-around talent and UCF commit Patrick Jolly. The senior combined for 87 yards and a touchdown. … Isaac Trammel put Newsome ahead briefly on an 11-yard touchdown run with just over nine minutes left.
Stats of the game: Newsome's defense recorded seven sacks from six different players. James Bland led the way with two while Landon Crews, Gregory Preaseau, Sean Dispenza, Jonathan Vega and Bryce Byer each had a sack of his own. The Wolves snagged three interceptions; Matt Bullington had the other one. … Jefferson' defense forced four turnovers with a blocked punt (returned for a touchdown), two interceptions and a fumble.
Final word I: "Obviously, preseason is preseason for a reason. We made a lot of good mistakes. Mistakes that are correctable. One thing that we talk about around here is our resilience. I was very happy with that tonight." — Jefferson coach Jeremy Earle
Final word II: "I was pleased with our hustle. We got misaligned a couple times. We played three plays with 10 players on defense. We have personnel issues that we have to figure out on both sides of the ball." — Newsome coach Ken Hiscock