On a crisp, perfect fall night, the #6 Jefferson Dragons tried but came up empty in containing one of the state’s most elite dual threats, dropping the 2018 Region 8-AAA Championship with a 35-21 loss to #3-ranked Monroe Area. The top-10 marquee showdown was one of the top-pitted games in the entire state with everything on the line.
Monroe led early 14-0 and never relinquished, despite a solid second half from the Dragons to make it interesting.
The Dragons (7-2; 4-1) saw their seven-game win streak come to an end. The Purple Hurricanes (9-0; 5-0) came in unbeaten with QB Chandler Byron, who entered Friday as the third-best rusher in the state and has 2,500-plus total yards. He scored four rushing TDs in the win, and threw for another in the title game. On the bright side for Jefferson, it became the first region opponent to even score off the Purple Hurricanes, which had outscored opponents 202-0 in the previous four region contests.
The Dragons retaliated in the second quarter with a Garmon Randolph 17-yard touchdown catch from Carter Stephenson to pull close. That Jefferson drive also was lengthy, lasting about eight full minutes.
Byron responded immediately with his own touchdown pass, a 52-yarder to Emmanuel Okwudili. After a Elijah Compton interception moments later, Byron then notched another rushing TD, this time from 17 yards out.
The second half proved more successful for the Dragons, who opened with a seven and a half minute drive, capped by a Paxton Corkery 1-yard score to pull within 28-14. Again though, Byron came back with his own 1-yarder to go up 35-14.
Jefferson closed the scoring in the fourth with a 1-yard TD run by Stephenson. A last effort was thwarted by an interception by Isaiah Glasper. Monroe Area capitalized by scoring on five of its six true drives, not counting the final one to run out the clock.
Jefferson closes its 2018 regular season in Week 10 at Jackson County. The Dragons will still be without the services of Clark, but will hopefully get him back for the playoff run which begins in two weeks (November 9).