Braden Pahanish scores Thomas Jefferson's first touchdown Friday night in the Jaguars' win against Ringgold at home.
By Brad Everett / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Thomas Jefferson hoped to pass its first test of the season Friday.
The Jaguars were successful in large part because they barely passed at all.
Led by a potent rushing attack, No. 2 Thomas Jefferson attempted only one pass in pounding visiting Ringgold, 49-6, in a Class AAA Big Nine Conference game.
Thomas Jefferson's Austin Kemp rushed for 249 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries. He paced a running game that amassed 391 yards on 52 carries.
"It was all right," Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak said, tongue in cheek, about his team's rushing effort. "That was something that we've been working on. We feel that our stable of backs are pretty good. We wanted to find a way to use them all and get our other tight ends involved.
"And let's face it, we have two young, developing quarterbacks, so I don't want to put anything on their plate that is out of their comfort zone or that's going to put them in a situation to fail. Once we got rolling [with the running game], that was our ticket there."
The win continued Thomas Jefferson's dominant ways on its home turf. The Jaguars have won 52 games in a row at home, their most recent loss coming in 2004. They have not lost a conference home game since 2001.
Ringgold was expected to provide Thomas Jefferson its stiffest competition in the conference, but the Rams had no success stopping the run and struggled to move the ball against a stout Thomas Jefferson defense.
"We just got beat," Ringgold coach Nick Milchovich said. "They're a very physical football team. [Kemp] is a big, strong kid. We just got beat. Man to man, we got beat up."
Thomas Jefferson ran the ball its first 27 plays, most of which came with Kemp taking snaps out of the wildcat formation. At that point, the Jaguars had already built a 21-6 lead. On a second-and-10 from the Ringgold 13, the Jaguars did the unthinkable -- they passed. Kemp caught the Rams off guard when he took the snap and tossed a scoring strike to tight end Russell Siess to extend the lead to 28-6 with just less than a minute left in the opening half.
"It was really exciting," said Kemp, who rushed for 1,101 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior. "Coach called it. I've practiced it. I just executed it right."
Ringgold's biggest weapon is quarterback Nico Law. A senior, Law is fresh off a season in which he passed and rushed for more than 1,200 yards each.
Friday, Law faced relentless pressure, allowing him little room to run and little time to pass. His 83-yard touchdown pass to Mayson Atkinson in the first quarter was the lone big blow. Law finished 6 of 12 for 111 yards. He rushed for minus-10 yards on seven carries.
"We felt that the key for us was to keep their offense off the field by keeping the ball and controlling the line of scrimmage, and that worked out pretty well for us," said Cherpak, whose team limited Ringgold to six offensive plays the first 19 minutes of the second half.
After Thomas Jefferson held Ringgold to a three-and-out to begin the game, the Jaguars did little to disguise that they were intent on running and running often. Fullback Braden Pahanish scored on an 11-yard touchdown run. Law quickly put Ringgold on the board when he tossed a deep ball to a streaking Atkinson for the lone touchdown.
Kemp responded with an impressive 40-yard touchdown run where he burst up the left side and broke three tackles on his way to the end zone. Kemp added a 1-yard touchdown run. Then on his team's final drive of the half, Kemp hooked up with Siess for the passing score.
Ringgold put six players on the defensive line in the second half in hopes of slowing down Thomas Jefferson and perhaps forcing the Jaguars to pass. It worked for one series, but that was it. Kemp scored on an 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and then put the mercy rule into effect with a 10-yard scoring run with 10:19 to go in the fourth quarter. Ricky Daley added a 2-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter.
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