In a historic first game under lights at Augusta Prep on Friday night, it was the scoreboard that got lit up.
Augusta Prep battled back from a 30-point second-quarter deficit but couldn’t complete the comeback as it fell to Thomas Jefferson 44-38.
“A very experienced team beat an inexperienced team tonight,” said Cavaliers coach Harry Bacheller, whose team is in its second year as a varsity program. “They’ve won more championships than we’ve been a program.”
The Cavaliers lost five fumbles in the first half and trailed 38-17 at the break. After battling back to even the score at 38 on a one-yard run from Nolan Brandon and a two-point conversion with 11:10 left to play, one last turnover sank them.
The Jaguars (1-2) picked off quarterback Jack Owen with 1:03 left, and Jaguars quarterback Austin Richards then found Michael Bridges for 26 yards and the game-winning touchdown on the final play.
With a large crowd on hand, the Cavaliers were aggressive from the start, recovering an onside kick to begin the game. That turned into their first fumble two plays later.
Down 38-7, the Cavaliers rode an ailing Kevins Huggins at fullback on a 65-yard drive to get to 38-14 after he went in from 18 yards out. An interception set up a 35-yard field goal by Huggins going into the half, and the deficit was 38-17.
After rushing for 129 yards in the first half, Huggins was too dehydrated to continue. Brandon took over where he left off, rushing 16 times for 88 yards in the second half.
“Kevin had sacrificed for us, we knew we had to sacrifice for him,” Brandon said. “We’re disapppointed we lost, but we’re all proud of the way we played.”
THOMAS JEFFERSON 44, AUGUSTA PREP 38
PLAY OF THE GAME: Trailing 38-23 in the third quarter, Augusta Prep receiver Joseph Shaver outdueled two defenders for the ball on the sideline, eluded them and went in for the 44-yard score.
STAR OF THE GAME: Seth Evans was the Jaguars’ workhorse, rushing for 190 yards and a touchdown and catching a 10-yard pass for a score.
WHY THOMAS JEFFERSON WON: It broke out to a big lead and took advantage of Augusta Prep’s final miscue in the waning moments.
WHY AUGUSTA PREP LOST: Ultimately, five first-half fumbles were too much to overcome.
NEXT: Augusta Prep (2-1) at Georgia Force, 7:30 p.m., Friday
Thomas Jefferson 44, Augusta Prep 38
Thomas Jeff. 22 16 0 6 – 44
Augusta Prep 0 17 13 8 – 38
TJ-Justin Haycraft 21 pass from Austin Richards (pass good), 4:08
TJ-Haycraft 2 run (pass fail), 2:03
TJ-Seth Evans 7 run (run good), :34
TJ–Evans 12 run (pass good), 6:30
A-Franklin Sims 36 pass from Jack Owen (Kevin Huggins kick), 4:33
TJ-Evans 10 pass from Richards (run good), 2:04
A-Huggins 18 run (Huggins kick), 1:46
A-Huggins 35 field goal, :01
A-Joseph Shaver 44 pass from Owen (kick fail), 9:18
A-Nate Pylant 1 run (Owen kick), 4:17
A-Nolan Brandon 1 run (pass good), 11:10
TJ-Michael Bridges 26 pass from Richards (rush fail), :55
RUSHING–Thomas Jefferson: Seth Evans 18-190, Michael Bridges 14-105, Alex Haythorn 2-3, Justin Haycraft 10-68, Austin Richards 2 -7. Augusta Prep: Kevin Huggins 15-129, Nolan Brandon 16-88, Jack Owen, 6- -9, Nate Pylant 4-24, Franklin Sims 1-1, Patrick Reynolds 2 -1.
PASSING–Thomas Jefferson: Richards 3-7-1 57. Augusta Prep: Owen 6-14-1 121.
RECEIVING–Thomas Jefferson: Haycraft 1-21, Evans 1-10, Bridges 1-26. Augusta Prep: Franklin Sims 2-49, Patrick Reynolds 1-6, Joseph Shaver 2-49, Michael Downing 1-17.