Jefferson City uses big second half to get past Smith-Cotton 56-14

SEDALIA — It was a tale of two halves for the Jefferson City Jays on Friday night at Sedalia Smith-Cotton.The Jays did not play up to their standard in the opening half, but put together a dominant second half to run away with a 56-14 victory against the Tigers in Central Missouri Activities Conference play.“I think we could be better,” Jefferson City Jays coach Damon Wells said. “I thought we took an awful lot of things for granted this week, and it’s our responsibility to do a better job.”After each side went three-and-out to start the contest, Jefferson City was able to get on the board first after putting together a six-play, 57-yard drive that ended with a Jacob Wilson 2-yard touchdown run. Kendric Johnson knocked through one of his seven made extra-point attempts and the Jays held a 7-0 lead halfway through the first.Jefferson City got the ball back immediately after Tavien Davis was able to recover the short kickoff from Johnson to set up the next possession at the Tigers’ 27-yard line.Three plays later, Jaiden LaViolette punched in a 5-yard touchdown on a dive to extend the lead to 14-0 just over a minute after the first score.Smith-Cotton was able to answer, driving 56 yards in six plays to punch in its first touchdown on a 14-yard run by quarterback Beau Gray on a read-option keeper to cut the Jays’ lead in half.Jefferson City was able to stretch out their lead with consecutive touchdowns, one by Wilson on a 19-yard quarterback sweep and the other on a 34-yard toss to Zach Barnes.Johnson made 1-of-2 PATs and the Jays held a 27-7 lead with just more than six minutes left in the half.But the Tigers were able to get some momentum going into the locker room with another touchdown drive to follow.Smith-Cotton faced a third-and-goal at the Jefferson City 10, and Gray was able to find Gavin Jackson on a slant route with 29 seconds left to make it a 27-14 game at intermission.“We definitely had a couple of busts, busts in the secondary which is atypical of us,” Wells said. “That’s what I mean about not being fully engaged at the task at hand.”The Jays came up with a big stop to start the second half to keep it a two-score game.The Tigers used three Jefferson City penalties to get into the red zone but faced a fourth-and-10 at the Jefferson City 12.Gray found Brayden Butts on a screen pass, but a swarm of Jays met him in the backfield to get a turnover on downs.“That was big, that definitely changed the momentum our way,” Jefferson City running back and safety Kantrell Jordan said. “I’m proud of our defense for that.”It was all Jefferson City following the stop.The Jays punched in two touchdowns in a two-minute span, both coming from running back Bradarious Lewis. Lewis broke off a 22-yard run up the middle for the first score and then took the first play of the next drive 63 yards for another touchdown to extend the lead to 41-14 with 5:25 left in the third.“I give credit to the o-line, they made plays for me,” Lewis said. “The o-line opened a huge gap for me, and I ran through it. That was about it. … That was exciting, my third touchdown of the season. I was pretty happy.”Jefferson City was able to secure the running clock late in the third after Wilson sneaked in a 1-yard touchdown and Jordan ran in the 2-point to make it a 49-14 game with 1:41 left in the third.Barnes capped off the night with a 62-yard touchdown run with 9:39 left in the game to create the final margin.The Jays finished with 466 rushing yards on 46 attempts (10.1 yards per carry), led by Barnes with 142 yards with two scores on 11 carries.Smith-Cotton (0-4, 0-2 CMAC) was led by running back Mylan Hawkins with 11 rushes for 24 yards and six receptions for 47 yards.Jefferson City (2-2, 1-1) will look to keep the momentum going with a matchup against Capital City — which dropped its first game of the season Friday in a 38-28 defeat to Rock Bridge — next week.Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Adkins Stadium.

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