Late Interception Return Seals Jefferson’s 36-22 Win Against Harmony
LONGVIEW — When the Harmony Eagles held Jefferson to a three-and-out late in the fourth quarter, they got the ball back with 1:02 left trailing seven points with 98 yards between them and tying the game.
Two plays later, Harmony quarterback Alan Peralta was intercepted by Jefferson safety KaeVaughn Caldwell, who returned the pick 26 yards for a touchdown and nailed the coffin shut on an Harmony comeback as Jefferson won 36-22 at Lobo Stadium on Saturday night.
The win ensures a log-jam at the top of District 9-2A Division I. Jefferson, White Oak, Tatum, and Troup are each 2-1 in district and tied at the top. Jefferson travels to Tatum on Friday.
Jefferson running back Deion Williams tallied 64 rushing yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Brayden Varnell finished with 110 total yards and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing).
“Deion was a little rusty. He’s been hurt, but I thought our quarterback did a real good job,” said Jefferson coach Jerry Bennett.
Peralta completed 12 of 23 yards for 150 yards and two interceptions, while running for 57 yards and a touchdown.
“We had tremendous injuries tonight that really put us behind, but the guys fought. Some played out of position, and I’m very, very proud of them,” said Harmony coach Tim Russell. “Peralta just willed us to get a chance to come back in this game, and if we’d had a few more ticks on the clock, we could have.”
Jefferson (7-1, 2-1) got the scoring started on their opening drive going 67 yards on seven plays. Williams punched it in from four yards, giving the Bulldogs the early 7-0 lead.
Harmony (5-3, 1-2) answered quickly when tailback Tim McCoy scored on a five-yard touchdown run that completed an 11-play, 52-yard drive to tie the game at the 5:07 mark of the first. Peralta extended the drive with a 13-yard fourth down scramble.
With 1:34 left in the first half, Jefferson’s Varnell hit a wide open Devonte Singleton from the slot with a 10-yard touchdown strike on firth-and-goal, giving the Bulldogs the 14-7 advantage heading into intermission.
Harmony started the second half with the ball and went seven plays, culminating in a Peralta 23-yard touchdown scamper. Fullback Levi Thompson scored the two-point conversion for a 15-14 Harmony lead less than three minutes into the third.
Jefferson wrestled the lead back on the final play of the third quarter when LaDarius Holt scored on a five-yard run. Tight end Quincy Clements snagged the two-point conversion, making it 22-15 entering the fourth quarter. Varnell capped a five-play drive with a seven-yard touchdown on a quarterback-draw for a 29-15 lead with 3:48 remaining.
The Bulldogs seemingly had the game in hand until a fumble with 3:14 left gave Harmony the ball and new life. Peralta and the Eagles capitalized when the senior signal-caller hit Daven Murphree for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 1:21 remaining, making it a one-possession game, 29-22, with Harmony having all three of its timeouts.
Harmony stopped Jefferson on three quick plays to get the ball back after a punt that pinned the Eagles at their own 2-yard line with 62 seconds left, setting the stage for Caldwell’s game-sealing interception.