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Jefferson ends slump, beats Newton Falls

September 29, 2012
By VINCE PELUSO - Special to Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

JEFFERSON - While lugging around a two-game losing streak, the Jefferson Falcons certainly looked comfortable on homecoming at Falcon Pride on Friday night as they dominated the first half then pulled away in the fourth quarter to get an All-American Conference, National Division, win against Newton Falls, 43-20.

"It's always good to be in the win column," Jefferson coach Jimmy Henson said. "I don't care if you've won 10 in a row, it's always good to be in the win column."

Jefferson (4-2, 2-2) jumped out to an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter behind a Brandon Balascio 23-yard field goal and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Tony Chiacchiero to Brett Powers.

Going for the early kill, Jefferson tried a surprise onside kick, but Newton Falls (1-5, 1-1) recovered, setting up the Tigers on their own 46 yardline.

They would take advantage, driving 54 yards in a little more than 3 minutes as Chris Gregory scored from 5 yards out to cut the deficit to 10-7.

But, Jefferson would go on to score 26-unanswered points, 20 of which came in the second quarter.

Chiacchiero hooked up with Kyle Ashburn for a 62-yard bomb to push the lead to 10 then Cole Erdel found a wide-open Powers on a reverse pass for a 35-yard score.

Powers (three receptions, 75 yards, three touchdowns) found paydirt for the third time, this time on a 25-yard pass from Chiacchiero.

"I think we've got kids that can do that (be explosive) and some of them showed it tonight," Henson said. "I thought Tony threw the ball pretty well, we caught it well and when we had the opportunity, we made some plays."

Jefferson wasted little time adding to its lead in the second half, as Ashburn returned the opening kick 85 yards for a touchdown, making the score 36-7.

That play proved important as Newton Falls came roaring back, as Gregory scored from 6 yards out then quarterback Brandon Fuller (12 rushes, 163 yards, 13.6 per carry) outran the Falcons defense for a 33-yard scoring scamper, making it 36-20 heading to the fourth quarter.

"We were trying, we kept fighting," Tigers coach Jon Culp said. "We got it to two scores in the fourth quarter and figured we had a shot then."

Things looked to be uncomfortable for Jefferson as a sack and personal foul penalty set it up for a third and 27 on its own 38 with around 10 minutes remaining in the game.

But Jacob Hamilton ran 25 yards to set up a fourth-and-2 that Henson elected to go for and Scott Davidson rewarded that decision with a 37-yard touchdown run that put the game away.

"We just lined up and did what we did," Henson said of the runs. "We kind of quit playing football there for a bit. We got out to the big lead then we lost our intensity for a while, we were able to pick it back up and get some big runs."

Davidson finished the day 130 yards on 20 carries, 6.5 yards per carry.

Lost in the offensive explosion for Jefferson - it racked up 443 total yards (239 rushing, 204 passing) - was the job its defense did in creating three turnovers, all of which the Falcons converted into touchdowns.

"The turnovers killed us," Culp said. "We got in the hole early, 30-7 at half, we came out fighting in the second half but just didn't have enough."

There was plenty of fighting throughout the game as multiple offsetting, personal-foul penalties were called and two Jefferson players (Cole Erdel and Justin Butler) were ejected. Because of being ejected, they must sit out the Falcons' game next week at Lakeview.

"I got the explanation from the officials," Henson said of the ejections. "The officials saw what they told me they saw. I wasn't out there on the field (to see exactly what happened), but I know I was telling my guys we don't do that. We need to keep our composure, that's what I just talked to the kids about, we gotta keep our composure.

"It's going to hurt us."

Culp said he felt things escalated throughout, but it was just two aggressive football teams playing.

"I thought it was two teams trying to play football, I know it got a little out of hand, but it happens," he said.