Return of Jefferies, Loving gives Benjamin Franklin Familiar Look in Win

2 months ago Caela Fox 0

The inside track to the 3A Central Region automatic playoff berth was on the line last Friday night at Benjamin Franklin High School, where the Chargers hosted the Florence Gophers. The return of a couple injured Chargers made things look familiar again in a 49 – 12 victory.

“It looked like the offense I know and love; that we’ve seen before,” said Chargers head coach Dave Jefferies.

From the opening kickoff to the final snap of the game, the Chargers were in complete control.

In the first quarter, the Chargers opened a 14 – 0 lead, starting with a 45-yard touchdown run by junior running back Zach Jefferies on their opening drive. Senior running back Chandler Miles added a seven-yard touchdown to finish out the first quarter.

“(Zach) started tonight and we had him play the first half, then we got him out, but he had some big gains for us,” Dave Jefferies said. “He and Chandler in the backfield is huge. Chandler has been there the whole time, but those two did a lot together last year.

“They’re used to each other, they have some synergy, it was good to see that again, and it hasn’t been that way since the first 10 minutes of the first game.”

That momentum continued right into the second quarter with a six-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Dayson Blair to extend the Chargers’ lead to 21 – 0.

A four-yard rushing touchdown by Florence junior Joshua Maignan cut the deficit to 21 – 6 but only momentarily. It was all Chargers after that thanks to a pair of Zach Jefferies scoring runs that extended the lead to 35 – 6 at the half.

Florence scored first to start the second half when sophomore quarterback Chris Walter connected with sophomore receiver Malik Payton on a 12-yard touchdown throw and catch. The two-point PAT failed.

The Gophers continued to struggle on both ends of the field. They didn’t appear to be the same team that beat Coolidge just a week earlier.

“We just didn’t execute on offense (and) defense,” Florence head coach Scott Howard said after the game. “We just came out flat and didn’t respond and dug ourselves a huge hole.”

A seven-yard touchdown by Miles and a fumble recovery by senior defensive lineman Bradyn Lemieux was returned 39 yards for a touchdown to seal up the win for the Chargers, leaving them in control of their own playoff destiny with two region games left to play.

This loss means that the Gophers don’t have full control of their playoff hopes, but they still have a chance to make the postseason and they’re up to the challenge.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Gophers struggle on both sides of the ball: The Gophers were able to score two touchdowns and they also had 200 receiving yards and 74 rushing yards as a team. However, with two missed extra points, multiple failed attempts on fourth down and two fumbles, the Gophers had a hard time keeping possession of the ball, which in turn gave the Chagres the ball for a clear majority of the game.

Injured players return for Chargers: For the first half of the season, the Chargers were plagued by injuries. However, this week they got back a couple instrumental players. Zach Jefferies is one of them and he had an incredible night with three touchdowns, one of them on the opening drive of the game. The other player that returned was senior two-way starting lineman McCalister Loving, who also played very well on both sides of the ball. The Chargers are also hoping to get a couple more players back over the next couple of weeks, but Dave Jefferies is happy with how his team has rallied and pulled through with having so many injured players.

Seven rushing touchdowns for Chargers: The Chargers had seven touchdowns by four different players – three by Zach Jefferies, two by Chandler Miles, another by Dayson Blair, and a defensive touchdown by Bradyn Lemieux. With all these touchdowns the Chargers showed how diverse their offense is and that the defense has some extra flair too.

THREE STARS – Benjamin Franklin

No. 3 – Bradyn Lemieux. He had a fumble recovery for a 39-yard touchdown and he kicked all seven extra points.

No. 2 – Chandler Miles. 18 carries for 144 yards with two touchdowns; 30-yard kick return and a 39-yard punt return for a total of 213 yards.

No. 1 – Zach Jefferies. 16 carries for 169 yards with three touchdowns; 1 tackle.

THREE STARS – Florence

No. 3 – Joshua Maignan. 12 carries for 39 yards with 1 touchdown.

No. 2 – Malik Payton. 3 receptions for 44 yards with 1 touchdown.

No. 1 – Christopher Walter. 11 completions for 23 attempts, with 200 yards and 1 touchdown.

HE SAID IT

“We just got to keep rolling. We are in the playoffs, for sure, because of the win, but we just got to keep going for that eleventh game. That is all we are worried about right now.” – Zach Jefferies about carrying this momentum through the rest of the season.

UP NEXT

Florence will host the San Tan Foothills Sabercats this Friday on Homecoming in another region game. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Benjamin Franklin is on a bye this week. It resumes action on Friday, Oct. 19, at ALA-Ironwood. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.