TAMPA — Everybody knew the deal: Alonso couldn’t afford to make any mistakes for it to have a chance Friday night against Jefferson.
Then the Ravens went out and made a lot of mistakes.
In the end, Jefferson’s high-speed offense took full advantage and ran away with a 41-14 victory.
More than anything, it was the second quarter — when Alonso lost two fumbles and threw a 70-yard interception — that proved the most pivotal as the Dragons racked up 29 of their points.
The most critical play? That came midway through the second quarter after Alonso (0-1) had driven to the Dragons’ 26-yard line. If Alonso had scored a touchdown it could have cut the gap to 15-14. Instead, Jefferson linebacker Juwuan Brown picked off a pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown.
Jefferson led 22-7 at that point, and Alonso, which relies on a grind-it-out approach as opposed to a quick-strike attack, was in trouble.
“(Brown’s interception) was most definitely a huge play, and it was great to see Brown (a USF commit) make a splash like that because he’s worked so hard to earn plays like that,” Jefferson coach Jeremy Earle said. “That play swung the momentum for us to (reel off 21 unanswered points).”
With a comfortable lead, Jefferson quarterback Deiondre Porter appeared to get even more smooth — on the run (14 carries, 191 yards) and through the air, completing seven of 10 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns, including a 20-yarder to Ventell Bryant and an 88-yarder to Chavez Pownell.
Dragons sophomore running back Mondreas Lofton also got cranked up, rushing six times for 71 yards, including a 24-yard scamper for a touchdown.
On the flip side, Alonso star running back Ish Witter ran strong in the early going, racking up a 23-yard touchdown run and 56 total yards just minutes in the second quarter. Witter, however, started getting massaged for cramps on the sideline, and by the time he was back on his feet, Brown had returned the interception for a touchdown and the game was pretty much out of reach.