JEFFERSONVILLE — Behind a dominating defensive effort and a robust run game, Jeffersonville ended its three-game losing streak to archrival New Albany and gave first-year coach Isaac Parker his first victory Friday night.
Junior Jordan Ferguson rushed for 174 yards and a touchdown while senior linebacker Ethan Rogers had a pair of interceptions — including one he returned for a TD — to lead the Red Devils to a 32-13 triumph over the Bulldogs at Blair Field.
“Two weeks ago we were an inch away from being 1-0, and last week we were an inch away from being 2-0. We came in today and we put together four quarters of football," Parker said. "I was very pleased by our effort."
Jeff (1-2, 1-1) led 7-0 at halftime before tallying 25 consecutive points to start the second half. The Bulldogs tallied two TDs in the final 3 minutes, 47 seconds to account for the final margin. Still, it was the Red Devils' biggest win over their archrivals since 2014's 48-13 victory.
"We've told everybody, we're a different team this year," Rogers said.
The game was scoreless until late in the first half, when Rogers picked off a Kyondre Winford pass that was deflected by Jeff strong safety Devaca Parks.
The opportunistic Red Devils quickly moved into New Albany territory, but faced a fourth-and-5 from the Dogs' 34. That's when junior quarterback Gervasio Mitchell, subbing for injured Shaun Wimberly Jr., rolled out and threw deep to Jaylen Bell-Mansfield, who made a leaping catch at the 10-yard line. Three plays later the Devils were in the end zone on Findley's 1-yard dive. They took a 7-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
New Albany nearly tied it to start the second half. DeJon Winburn returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, however, it was nullified by a penalty. Still, the Bulldogs took over at the Jeff 20. A false-start penalty on fourth-and-2 pushed the Bulldogs back to the 17 and moments later Winford's pass fell incomplete. It was one of five times New Albany failed to convert on fourth down during the game.
On the Devils' ensuing play, Mitchell connected with Bell-Mansfield again, this time for 22 yards. After a pair of short runs by Ferguson, Findley took a handoff, found a hole and sprinted 46 yards for a touchdown with 7:54 to play in the period. Findley finished with 96 yards.
On the Dogs' third play of their next possession, sophomore quarterback Derell Simmons' pass was picked off by Rogers, who returned it 40 yards for a TD to make it 20-0.
"I was in the right place at the right time, just doing my thing,” Rogers said.
The Devils' added two more touchdowns — a 32-yard run by Ferguson and a 31-yard run by Jered Tyson — early in the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs (1-2, 0-1) averted the shutout with a pair of late TDs.
New Albany sophomore quarterback Derell Simmons threw for 156 yards, although most of that was on the final two drives, and Myles Johnson ran for 97.
“We had some nice drives in the first half, but penalties killed us,” Bulldogs coach Steve Cooley said. “We had four or five big runs, that were called back, 30, 40 yards a crack. We’re not good enough to overcome second-and-17. Our passing game is very limited with two young sophomore quarterbacks, we’re working at it, but it’s hard for any football team to overcome third-and-17 and second-and-19, things like that. You eliminate those penalties, we probably put up a score or two in the first half and it might be a different game. But my hat’s off to them, they outplayed us and we shot ourselves in the foot too many times.”
Both teams are on the road next Friday. New Albany plays at Floyd Central while Jeffersonville travels to Columbus East.