SHENANDOAH JUNCTION – There wasn’t much time left for Jefferson High School’s football team to turn things around against upstart Hurricane High School last Saturday in the first round of the statewide WVSSAC Class AAA playoffs.
After the Redskins had taken an 18-14 lead, with 11 minutes to go in the game, the Cougars had a pair of scoring drives stall over the next five minutes. So when Jefferson got the ball back, following a Hurricane punt, at its own 30-yard line, with 4 minutes, 31 seconds left in the clock, it had to cover a lot of ground fast in order to retake the lead.
It turned out one of the fastest players on the Jefferson roster made this happen, and it only took him 12 seconds to do it.
Wideout Keyshawn Robinson beat a Hurricane cornerback on a wheel route pass pattern, catching a 70-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Sammy Roberts with 4:19 left in the game.
Twelve seconds later, on a Redskins’ first-and-10 from their own 10-yard line, Robinson, from his defensive back position, charged across the line, picked off a Ismael Borrero pass at the Hurricane 10. With a wide-open field in front of him, Robinson scooted into the end zone for a score.
“The coaches were looking at the formation there were in on defense,” Robinson said of his long scoring play. “They knew I had the speed to outrun their cornerbacks, so they chose that play for me to run.”
The 12-point, 12-second turnaround, orchestrated by Robinson, was just what Jefferson needed to secure its first post-season win in five years. The Cougars went on to a 31-18 win over Hurricane.
“Well, the name of the game is survive and advance,” Jefferson coach Craig Hunter said. “It was a tight game in the fourth quarter.”
With the win, the Cougars (10-1) travel to Bridgeport this Saturday for a 1:30 p.m., quarterfinal round, showdown with the Indians.
Bridgeport, the No. 3 team in the AAA playoffs, had an easy time in its first-round game, defeating No. 14 Morgantown, 34-7, last Friday.
Saturday’s game with Hurricane was a rematch of sorts. Last year, the Redskins won at Shenandoah Junction, 22-16. At times, it looked like Hurricane might make it two straight over the Cougars.
Brogan Brown scored on a 2-yard run with 2:43 left in the first quarter, giving the Redskins a 6-0 lead. Jefferson took a 7-6 lead at the 10:19 mark of the second quarter when Bryson Fleming scored the first of his two touchdowns. Oren Humphries kicked the first of four extra points.
A blocked Hurricane punt helped set up Fleming’s second score four minutes later. The Cougars got the ball at the Redskins’ 28. Four plays later, Fleming scored on a 2-yard plunge.
Jefferson led at halftime, 14-6, but Hurricane wasn’t going away anytime soon.
The Redskins cut the Cougars’ lead to 14-12 with 9:20 left in the third quarter when Borrero hit Brown with a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Hurricane went up 18-14 on Jefferson in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard run by Elijah Rivera.
“We made some mistakes in this game, but we were able to get some mistakes back,” Hunter said. “We had a fumble on the second half that hurt us a little bit, but we were able to get that back with a couple of interceptions.”
Jefferson picked off three Borrero passes in the fourth quarter, including Robinson’s pick-six.
“The defense played tough,” Hunter said. “The offense was able to get things going, and that was a big pass for Keyshawn to help get us going.”
Hurricane’s defense wasn’t the only thing challenging Jefferson in Saturday’s game. Most of the first half was played with some high winds, making Roberts’ passing game difficult at times. The first pass he threw was into a strong headwind, which led to an interception.
“The wind killed everything we were trying to do,” Hunter said. “It died down a little bit in the second half, but at the beginning of the game, it really killed us with our game plan. I was glad the kids were able to stay focused at the end, and we were able to get this victory.”
Roberts completed 11 of 19 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. Robinson had four catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. Spencer Powell had four catches for 40 yards.
“They really made a big comeback towards the end of the game,” Roberts said of Hurricane. “But the wind died down and we were able to throw the football a little bit.”
With the wind playing a key factor in Saturday’s game, Jefferson had to rely a little more on its running game. The Cougars had 131 yards on the ground.
Fleming rushed for 78 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Evan Tewell rushed for 53 yards on 18 carries.
Humphries helped ice Jefferson’s win late in the game with a 39-yard field goal.