MACON, Ga. — Thomas Jefferson continues to be a painful thorn in Piedmont Academy’s side.
For the third consecutive year, the Jaguars captured the GISA Class A state football championship at the Cougars’ expense with a 27-13 victory last Friday at Mercer University.
Piedmont finishes the season 9-4 overall in head coach Clint Satterfield’s first season with the program.
Leading 13-6 at halftime, TJA (12-1) took the second half’s opening possession but could not add to its lead. Piedmont’s defense stopped the Jaguars on a fourth and seven from the Cougar 36. Gavin Mask made a big tackle to force a fourth down attempt.
Taking over at its 32, Piedmont gained its initial first down of the game but a personal foul call pushed the ball back to the 27. The Cougars then converted a fourth and four from their 29 to keep the drive alive.
Piedmont, sensing the urgency of the possession, reached the end zone on a 49-yard pass from Justin Reynolds to Michael Joseph with 5:31 remaining in the third quarter. Landon Conner evened the score with the extra-point kick.
With the score now tied, Thomas Jefferson began at its 15 and marched 85 yards to regain the lead on a 56-yard TD by Beans Hunt with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Jaguars went for two but the Cougar defense stopped the attempt.
TJA then stopped Piedmont’s ensuing drive with an interception by John Durden at the Cougar 36-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Jaguars proceeded to work the game clock down to 5:25 before John Durden crashed in for another touchdown.
Thomas Jefferson converted two fourth downs on the scoring drive to kill even more clock. A successful 2-point conversion put the Jaguars in front 27-13.
The Jaguars finished with approximately 36 minutes in time of possession.
Piedmont had its chances early to jump out with a lead.
On the game’s opening possession, the Cougars nearly connected on a home run pass play before going three-and-out at its own 41-yard line. Thomas Jefferson, on its first drive, methodically drove down the field and Durden punched it in from a yard out.
The Cougars held tough throughout the game, but their offense simply wasn’t able to maintain possession enough to score points.
That was the ultimate difference in the game.
Afterward, Thomas Jefferson’s head coach paid respect to Piedmont in their three straight state titles matchups.
“It has been a great rivalry for the last four years,” TJA head coach Terence Hennessy said. “I’m not sure what the future will hold in terms of us continuing to play but it is something we definitely would like to do if at all possible. For us to win three state championships in a row is special. We had a great group of seniors. I thought Coach Satterfield did a great job of preparing his kids for the rematch. Games typically come down to four or five plays.”