CEDAR RAPIDS –When the number seven was brought to the attention of Jefferson quarterback Layne Sullivan, he mustered his best Steve Spurrier scoff, vibrating his lips in disgusted.
“We had our opportunities,” Sullivan said. “I mean it sucks it was right there. Everybody saw it.”
Seven times. Three in the first half and four more in the second half. Seven times Jefferson started a drive in Waterloo East territory Friday night at Kingston Stadium, six times it came away empty handed. The one time the J-Hawks took advantage of the good field position, it was via a field goal.
The final chance was the most painful. With 1:02 left in the game, Jefferson’s drive stalled at the Waterloo East 40. It started at the Trojan 47. The J-Hawks had a chance, trailing by six for a memorable win. Instead it turned into a frustrating defeat.
The lack of execution hurt as Jefferson fell to Waterloo East 30-24. While the J-Hawk fumbled away opportunities, the Trojans made the most of them.
“Misreads, not blocking, things like that have to get corrected,” Jefferson head coach Brian Webb said. “When we get down in the redzone we struggled this year to score some points. It’s just something we have to have more focused emphasis on in practice.”
The J-Hawks wasted field position time and time again, and found themselves down 17 points in the first half. Through four games this season Jefferson scored a total of 19. Interceptions, penalties and turnover on downs all contributed to the redzone problems
The fact that Waterloo capitalized on the missed opportunities compounded the problem.
“Their defense made some good plays tonight, but that’s one thing we have to get working on because, we’ve had situations like that all season,” Sullivan said. “You’ve got to convert. It’s 4-A football. You’re not going to get many chances.”
But they did.
Even after, the J-Hawks fumbled on back on back to back touches, which led to 10 Waterloo East points, there were chances.
Trojan Running back Jordan Johnson finished the first half with 101 yards and two touchdowns. In the second half Aaron Taylor took the baton for the Trojans and finished with 107 yards — all in the second half — and a touchdown.
Still there were opportunities. And again the J-Hawks started drives within Trojan territory four times and came away without points.
“Our defense played well. They held their own and we’re going to live or die by our defense,” Waterloo East head coach Kody Asmus said. “That’s been a theme for us these past two weeks with some of our guys out.”
Despite the dominance, Jefferson hung around with timely turnovers. Anthony Schumacher and Layne Sullivan both picked off passes for the J-Hawks.
Trailing 17-0, having handed the ball to the Trojans the last two times it touched the ball, Sullivan set up a touchdown with a 73 yard run. It ignited 17 unanswered points by the J-Hawks to tie things at 17 with an opening drive touchdown to being the second half.
Sullivan finished with 170 yards passing, the majority of which went to Benjamin Koering. The junior came into the game with two catches for 37 yards. Friday night alone he had six catches for 113.
“It says everything about our team,” Webb said. “Teams from the past probably would have quit.”
They certainly fought until the end and set the scene for a thrilling finish. The Trojans went backwards with under three remaining and had to punt, giving the J-Hawks one final shot, the seventh that would start in enemy territory.
But like it had all night, penalities erased any advantage Jefferson possessed. An illegal procedure made a 2nd and 3 transform into a 2nd and 8. Then offsetting penalties erased a 22 yard pass and catch. They were all too much to overcome a Sullivan pass fell incomplete on fourth down.
There were a lot of positives to take from the game for Jefferson, but in the huddle after the game, the J-Hawks didn’t want to hear any of them.
“I mean that’s a tough huddle right there,” Sullivan said. “Because everybody was pretty emotional. It was right there.”
WE – Jordan Johnson 6 run (Juan Martinez kick)
WE – Jordan Johnson 16 run (Juan Martinez kick)
WE – Juan Martinez 39 kick
J – Nicholas O’Connell 3 run (Nicholas Rocha kick)
J – Nicholas 30 kick
J – O’Connell 2 run (Nicholas Rocha kick)
WE – Aaron Taylor 54 run (kick blocked)
WE – Aaron Taylor 1 run (Juan Martinez kick)
J – William Orr 1 run (Nicholas Rocha kick)