Eagles pick off mistake-prone Jefferson

JEFFERSON – Going against the Hubbard Eagles, the fifth-ranked team in Division IV, Region 13, there was little margin for error for the Jefferson Falcons.

Three weeks before Halloween, the Falcons turned in a performance that may resemble a horror show in film sessions next week.

Quarterback J.J. Henson threw five interceptions in the game, four of them by Eagles defensive back Joseph Fisher. There was also a bad punt that led directly to a Hubbard score. There were missed tackles, a mismanaged squib kick and an inability to execute on offense at key moments during Hubbard’s 48-21 victory at Falcon Pride Stadium.

“We made some mistakes,” Falcons coach Jim Henson said. “We can’t turn the ball over like we did – that’s poor execution on our part. But they (the Eagles) did a nice job. Their offensive line blocked very well, their backs ran hard. They executed – we didn’t.”

Despite all the mistakes, Jefferson (3-4, 2-2 All-American Conference, White Tier) fought back from an early 20-0 deficit on a 31-yard halfback pass from Jeremiah Knight to Jon Jackson that made it a 27-21 game with 10:19 still remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles (6-1, 3-0 AAC White) took advantage of a botched squib kick attempt, though, that gave them the ball back near midfield. From there, Hubbard’s David Hernandez carried the ball four plays in a row, the last of which he shed a defender in the backfield and went 28 yards for the touchdown – his third of the night.

Hubbard totaled 430 yards, all on the ground. Rafael Morales led the charge with 178 yards and two touchdowns. They also got big nights from Davion Daniels of 114 yards with a score, as well as 81 yards from Tyreq Moorer and 52 yards from Hernandez. Having the amount of talented backs the Eagles possesses is a luxury coach Brian Hoffman does not take for granted.

“We had four guys in there that contributed in the run game tonight,” Hoffman said. “Those guys did a nice job of running the football with authority and then stretching the field as well.”

As well as the Eagles ran the ball, they were aided by Jefferson miscues.

Trailing 7-0, J.J. Henson had a punt go just 11 yards, setting up the Eagles at the Falcons’ 36-yard line. Moorer went around the right end on the very next play 36 yards for the score making it 14-0.

Then things got worse.

Facing second-and-7 from their 28 on the ensuing possession, Henson threw his first pick, giving Hubbard the ball back again in Falcon territory. Two plays later, Morales went 31 yards and the Eagles were up 20-0.

Jefferson chipped into that deficit with a 55-yard touchdown run by Knight, Ashtabula County’s all-time leading. He scored later in the quarter on another long run, this time going 45 yards to bring Jefferson back to within 20-14.

Knight finished the game with 233 yards.

Hoffman said he knew full well what kind of threat the Falcons had in their backfield.

“He’s electrifying,” the Hubbard coach said of Knight. “It’s a no-brainer where they are going with the ball, and he is still able to make those kinds of plays. It’s a testament to how talented he is.”

The Eagles recaptured the two-possession lead early in the third quarter on a 5-yard run by Morales.

After the teams traded touchdowns, Jefferson had a chance to make it a one-possession game again. Knight was stopped short on a fourth-and-2 inside the red zone to halt the drive.

Hubbard added one last score.

“I told the kids I was very proud of the effort, but we have to be smarter football players and that’s my job,” Henson said. “I got to get them lined up where they’re supposed to be. We can’t turn the ball over, we can’t miss that many tackles. They (the Eagles) executed. We just have keep improving.”