JEFFERSONVILLE — An area postseason rivalry was rekindled Friday night and unfittingly ended in convincing fashion.
Jeffersonville secured its first postseason win since 2015 by way of a 23-7 victory over visiting New Albany in the first round of Class 5A Sectional 16 — the first postseason matchup between the two since the Red Devils’ one-point win four years ago with both as members of Class 6A.
The Red Devils (4-6) advance to meet Floyd Central (8-2) in next week’s Class 5A Sectional 16 final. A win in said matchup would give Jeffersonville its first championship since 2007 and its fifth overall.
The Red Devils are now 7-3 all-time in the 10 postseason meetings versus the Bulldogs, who ended the season 4-6. Jeffersonville improved to 28-35 all-time in postseason play and 39-52-5 all-time versus rival New Albany dating back to 1904.
“We’re building,” Jeffersonville first-year coach Isaac Parker said. “We’re moving in the right direction. I think it gives everyone more confidence knowing that we are moving in the right direction. The regular season, that 3-6 record, did not reflect the kind of team we were. … We accepted that and kept moving on. … I can tell you this, we’re still hungry.”
Friday’s win marked the first postseason victory for Parker, who was pitted against the Red Devils’ second winningest coach in the Bulldogs’ Steve Cooley, who coached Jeffersonville to its most recent sectional championship in 2007.
“My hat’s off to Jeff,” Cooley said. “They outplayed us tonight. They were more physical than we were up front, on both sides of the ball. They had two or three big plays, which led to their points. We had some big plays, we just didn’t score on them. That was the difference. They punched it in and we didn’t.”
The Red Devils, who also won the regular-season meeting versus the Bulldogs in Week 3, were paced by Ethan Rogers and Jordan Ferguson, who combined for 255 of the hosts’ 265 rushing yards. Ferguson led the way with 170 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
The duo stepped up in absence of leading rusher Isaac Findley, who played just one snap due to an ankle injury. Parker said they’ll “be lucky” to get him back for the final next week.
“[Ferguson], last time we played them, had a heck of a game, and I think he outdid himself tonight,” Parker said. “Just real pleased with him stepping up.
“They were excited. These kids are hungry. This is their first sectional win since they’ve been in school here. … They felt like it was their turn. Our big motto this week was finishing.”
New Albany, which met Jeffersonville in postseason play as a result of the Red Devils’ enrollment-led shift to Class 5A, was led by 100 yards on 23 totes for Myles Johnson, who later exited with an injury.
Backup quarterback Derell Simmons entered as a result of the injury to Johnson — starting quarterback Kyondre Winford shifted to — and threw for 127 yards in limited time and added the lone score, a one-yard touchdown run after a 47-yard completion to Tim Johnson.
After a slow start, a fumble recovery on a punt kick-started the Red Devils’ offense, which on the ensuing drive got a 34-yard score from Rogers to get on the board. A Ferguson 93-yard dash up the right sideline later made for a 14-0 score in the second quarter.
“The turnover there kind of changed the momentum,” Cooley said. “We talked all week, the past two weeks about not beating ourselves. … That gave them life. That was a huge play in the game. Before that, I don’t know if they had any positive yards.”
A fumble thwarted an effective New Albany drive to start the second half. The Bulldogs turned it over on downs the following two possessions, sandwiched in between a field goal for the Red Devils.
A one-yard touchdown run inched the Bulldogs within 17-7 with 9:24 left. But the visitors were pinned inside their own 10 on the following drive, and their final attempt at a comeback culminated in a Gervasio Mitchell interception.
Jeffersonville now travels to Floyd Central next Friday to vie for a sectional crown. The Highlanders topped both the Red Devils and Bulldogs by a combined 53 points in the regular season.
The new-look Sectional 16 will produce for one of the four programs a sectional title for the first time since at least 2011, BNL’s last championship. Two-time champion Floyd Central last won in 2009.