FORT HOOD — Johnny Jefferson’s curtain surprised even him.
The Shoemaker senior running back carried the ball seven times in eight plays, churning out just enough yardage to keep the chains and clock moving on the Grey Wolves’ final drive. Then, seemingly bottled up after a marginal run, Jefferson squirted through a mess of players and ran untouched the final 15 yards to give Shoemaker a 27-14 win over Ellison at Hood Stadium on Friday night.
Jefferson, a Baylor commit, ran for 32 times for 297 yards and scored on his first carry, his last carry and once in between to give the Grey Wolves (2-8, 1-6 8-5A) their second straight win over the Eagles.
“I wasn’t trying to (score), I was just trying to run the clock down, but things just work crazy ways and I just did it — I don’t know how I did it, it just happened and I just flowed with it,” Jefferson said.
Ellison (0-10, 0-7) scored 14 straight points on two Isiah Cowan touchdown runs to cut Shoemaker’s 21-0 lead to 21-14 with under a minute left in the third quarter. But in the fourth quarter, Deon Burch missed a 32-yard field goal and Trenton Jones’ fourth-and-6 pass to Reginald Jackson fell incomplete before Jefferson’s sealing score that stretched the Eagles’ losing streak to 20 games.
“We’ve got a motto around Ellison, it’s called ‘Fight to the end.’ And that’s what we stressed all this week, that’s what we stressed all this season,” said Cowan, who led Ellison with 114 yards on 24 carries. “We had some games where we fought, we had to fight back. That’s just what you’ve got to do, that’s what you’ve got to do in football.
“You’ve got to do the same thing in life: You’ve got to fight back when you’re down, when you’re in the hole. I can’t be more proud of my teammates. It hurts. It hurts very bad. It’s just unfortunate. We made some mistakes and it cost us.”
Jefferson had touchdown runs of 68 and 14 and Javonte Warren scored on 23-yard run to lead the Grey Wolves to a 21-6 lead at halftime.
Jefferson ran just 13 times in the first half, but picked up 156 yards. The Eagles, as a team, totalled 157 yards and one score in the first half.
“We got a couple of big plays, then after that, we pushed the tempo on them (the Eagles), got them tired, then transferred some guys out, got another (score),” said Shoemaker coach Channon Hall. “Then, of course, you knew they were going to fight. And they did and made it a game. Then, we just had to finish.”
After falling behind three touchdowns, Cowan finally put Ellison on the board with a 5-yard touchdown run with 2:56 left in the first half to cap an 11-play drive that included a 10-yard run by the senior on a fake punt.
Kicking into the wind to start the second half, Burch’s high kickoff wobbled in the wind and Ellison senior Ryan Stuckey recovered at the Shoemaker 45-yard line. Jones was intercepted by Dwayne Williams three plays later, but the Grey Wolves’ couldn’t take advantage of the turnover.
Cowan then capped Ellison’s ensuing 18-play drive, which began at its own 11, with his second 5-yard touchdown run to pull the Eagles within 21-14.
Eagles receiver/defensive back Keith Gipson intercepted a pass by Jefferson on the final play of the third quarter, but after getting to the Shoemaker 10-yard line, the Eagles’ drive stalled at the 15 following a sack on Jones and Burch’s field goal, with the wind, sailed wide left.
Ellison’s defense then forced a turnover on downs when Ziere Banner’s fourth-and-10 pass to Qwoy Blunt travelled just 9 yards, but Jones overthrew Jackson on fourth down to turn the ball back over to Jefferson and the Grey Wolves’ offense with 3:40 left.
“We just told them it’s their last 24 minutes to play football together,” Ellison head coach Buddy McBryde said of his halftime speech. “This team never quit. Go back and look at all of our games — we didn’t quit, played hard.”