Things were looking a little dicey for Thomas Jefferson at halftime, holding a slim 14-12 lead over winless Des Moines North while being outgained by the Polar Bears.
But the Yellow Jackets came on strong in the second half, outscoring North 27-0 the rest of the way, to take a 41-12 decision at Gale Wickersham Stadium.
Jermaine Green scored two rushing touchdowns for Jefferson while running for 95 yards on 24 carries, and T.J. outgained North 234-154 for the game.
And after allowing more than 60 points per game in their past three games—all losses—the Jacket defense stepped up to force seven Bear turnovers in the game.
Jefferson coach Brant Anderson said that despite the close score at halftime, he was encouraged with his team’s defense.
“Defense knew they were playing well in the first half. We just gave up a couple of big plays to basically set them up for their two scores and good plays by them,” Anderson said.
“We just had to shore up a couple of little things, and they came out and made stops. We got fortunate to get some turnovers that helped out a lot,” he added.
Anderson said he was glad to put the three-game skid behind his team and improve to 3-3.
“You know, 3-3 is big for us right now. We’ve got winnable games all through the rest of the season, so it was really good to get off that and get a win again.
Green put the Yellow Jackets up 6-0 with a 12-yard touchdown run with 4:29 left in the first quarter.
It was Green’s team-leading seventh rushing touchdown of the season.
The Bears responded with a 56-yard scoring scamper by Tan Nguyen to knot the game at 6-6 with 16 seconds left in the first quarter.
A T.J. fumble on the first play of the second quarter gave North the ball at the Yellow Jacket 5.
But quarterback Nick Crispin lost the ball on the following play, and Hunter Jones recovered it and returned it 95 yards for a score to put Jefferson in front 14-8 with 10:50 left in the first half.
Crispin started the game in place of regular starter Nick Goergen, who was injured last week.
Georgen had passed for 417 yards and three touchdowns this season before going down.
Crispin pulled the Polar Bears to within two on a 1-yard plunge with 4:32 remaining until halftime as North pulled to within 14-12.
The Bears outgained T.J. 146-109 in the first half behind Nguyen’s 56-yard run.
The Yellow Jackets extended their lead to 21-12 on their second drive of the third quarter when Dylan Carmen muscled the ball in from the 2 for his second rushing touchdown of the season.
T.J.’s Reese Schlotfeld intercepted Crispin on the Bears’ following possession and returned it 40 yards to the end zone to put Jefferson up 28-12 with 2:27 left in the third quarter.
It was Schlotfeld’s first pick of the season.
Green’s eighth TD this year—an 8-yard run—nine seconds into the fourth made it 35-12.
Austin Schubert tossed a 70-yard touchdown strike to Qu’ran Owens 3:11 later made it 41-12.
Des Moines North (0-6, 0-2) 6 6 0 0—12
Thomas Jefferson (3-3, 1-1) 6 8 14 13—41
TJ: Jermaine Green 12 run (kick failed)
DMN: Tan Nguyen 56 run (run failed)
TJ: Hunter Jones 95 fumble return (Dylan Carmen run)
DMN: Nick Crispin 1 run (run failed)
TJ: Carmen 2 run (Carter Harold kick)
TJ: Reese Schlotfeld 40 interception return (Harold kick)
TJ: Green 8 run (Harold kick)
TJ: Qu’ran Owens 70 pass from Austin Schubert (pass failed)
Rushing: DMN, Nick Crispin 8-5, Tan Nguyen 16-99, Donavan Kile 4-8, Stanley Ross 4-(minus)1, Willie Oldes 2-27, Kevin Bickham 3-17, Makhia Duncan 3-9, Darrius Washington 1-3. TJ, Austin Schubert 5-(minus)39, Jermaine Green 24-95, JJ Johans 4-26, Dylan Carmen 6-21, Blayke Binau 1-2, Reese Schlotfeld 1-15, Lane Toman 1-(minus)5.