TAMPA — Jefferson sure did make things tough on itself this week and on Friday night against Sickles.
For starters, the Dragons' No. 1 quarterback, Cade Weldon, didn't follow some team rules and was forced to sit out the game.
Then on the first play, Tyrese Spain, arguably the Dragons' best athlete, twisted his knee and went to the hospital for X-rays.
Then in the first half, the Dragons threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles, and yet …
The Dragons, showing tremendous resolve and faith, still pulled out a comeback victory, 27-19.
"A lot of guys on this team have been through some tough times and through tough games like this, so there was never any panic," Jefferson coach Jeremy Earle said. "At halftime (though trailing 19-14) there really never was any doubt. They remained cool and confident."
In the second half, Jefferson (1-1) got its running game clicking, mainly behind sophomore Niko Duffey, who finished with 11 carries for 97 yards.
It also helped that backup junior quarterback Matt Gaffney found a groove, coming back from those three first-half interceptions to complete several key passes, including an 8-yard touchdown to Terrell Jackson with less than 2 minutes left for a 27-19 lead.
Other Dragon heroes included junior kicker Aaron Quiambao and senior defensive tackle Emmanuel Cochran. Quiambao hit field goals of 20 and 45 yards, the last with less than 4 minutes left for a 20-19 lead. Cochran intercepted a pass at the line of scrimmage on the Sickles' 16-yard line with less than 3 minutes left.
Sickles (1-1) had a last-minute surge, led by quarterback Jordan McCloud, who was 11 of 19 for 247 yards and three touchdowns, including one on a 91-yard completion in the opening minutes.
McCloud's final pass, however, was batted away at Jefferson's goal line as time expired.
As for Spain, Earle said the team wouldn't know the results for at least a day or two.