Prep Defeats the Thomas Jefferson Jaguars for the Third Consecutive Year in Heated Playoff Exchange
Written by: Keegan Welka on Saturday, November 25th, 2017
The Ramblers continue their state title conquest after ousting the Jaguars with a score of 42-17. Joseph Mischler led the Ramblers in this playoff matchup with 188 passing yards and ran himself for 78 yards. For Thomas Jefferson, RB Justin Vigna had 90 yards off of 21 rushing attempts, however he was injured midway through the third quarter. This injury was the nail in the coffin for the Jaguars, eventually leading to TJ’s second defeat in the season and the end to their playoff run.
On the coin toss, Thomas Jefferson predicted the right side of the coin flip and elected to kick the ball first to Prep. At the beginning of the game, TJ’s defense stood strong and forced the Ramblers to punt without allowing a single first down. After Mischler punt to Thomas Jefferson’s 35 yard line, the Jaguars began their 1st drive. Running back Justin Vigna clashed with Prep’s defense and showed his talent against one of the best defenses in the state. On his first run, he gained 6 yards. After an incomplete pass by sophomore QB Shane Stump, Vigna ran again for 10 yards putting his offense at the 19 yard line. After another incomplete pass, Vigna ran for 4 more yards. Unfortunately for Thomas Jefferson, Stump threw his third incomplete pass of the drive barely and forced TJ to settle for a field goal kicked by AJ Meshanko with 8:00 left in the quarter.
Prep started their first drive at the 25 yard line after Terry Roberts returned the kickoff. After TJ’s 3 points, the Rambler offense needed a response and a momentum changer. Mischler had a phenomenal 22 yard throw on the run to receiver Tyler Oedekoven. After a gain of five combined yards off of a run by Billy Lucas and Matt Lupo, Mischler threw another pass to Oedekoven, this time landing his offense at the 33 yard line for a successful 4th down conversion. Following this play, Lucas ran the ball all the way to the end zone to give the Ramblers their first points. After Anthony Lupo kicked the ball through the uprights for a successful extra point, Prep was ahead 7-3 with 5:06 left in the first quarter.
On the kickoff, TJ attempted a big play by hurtling one of Prep’s defenders. However, this effort failed miserably when the kick returner was hit in mid air by multiple defenders, forcing a fumble and another possession for the Ramblers. Although this huge play gave the Ramblers some momentum, they did not start their third drive off hot. For the first play of the drive, Pitt commit and defensive tackle David Danielson came up big with a sack on Mischler. Mischler responded accordingly, throwing two more successful passes, the latter pass caught by Lucas and taken to the TJ 18 yard line. After two plays that resulted in a yard loss, Mischler threw another pass to Tyler Oedekoven to put Prep on the 2 yard line. After a failed running attempt, Mischler took it himself on second down and ran across the outside, diving and barely giving Prep their second TD. With 1:24 left in the first quarter, Prep was ahead 14-3 after another extra point by Lupo.
After the major fumble on the last kickoff, Thomas Jefferson was careful on the next kickoff. After carrying the ball to the 30 yard line, the Jaguars were in need of some points. After a 3 yard gain by Vigna, Stump took the ball as the keeper and ran for 16 yards. Angry at themselves for allowing the QB run, Prep’s defense put their foot down and stopped any momentum from forming. Linebacker Matthew Bauer broke through the Jaguar’s offensive line and sacked Stump for a loss of 5 yards. Stump then attempted to throw the ball again, but Roberts broke up the pass, resulting in an incomplete pass. This play concluded the first quarter, which was followed by a Thomas Jefferson punt to the 29 yard line.
Prep had a scare on the first play of their 4th drive when Mischler fumbled the ball. Luckily, he was able to recover the ball but he was forced back nine yards. After a pass for no gain to Roberts, Prep was forced to punt the ball.
Starting at the 45 yard line, Thomas Jefferson was determined to score a touchdown. After two runs by Vigna, (one of which resulted in a facemask call against the Ramblers), the Jaguars were in a comfortable 2nd and 3 position. However, linebacker Frederick Scruggs blew past the offensive line and sacked the sophomore QB. On 3rd and 6, Stump finally got a huge pass off, this time caught by receiver Garret Fairman and brought to the 20 yard line. After a 12 yard run by Vigna, Thomas Jefferson was 8 yards away from the end zone. After a 7 yard run by Vigna, Stump took it himself and willed his way into the end zone. With AJ Meshanko’s extra point, TJ was only down by 4 points with 7:06 left in the half.
After the touchdown by the Jaguars, Prep was prepared to counter with their own six points. After a phenomenal kick return by Roberts that ended at Thomas Jefferson’s 33 yard line, Prep had the field position it needed to score a touchdown. Although Prep was called for holding on the first play of the drive, Mischler responded on the following play by taking the ball himself and running all the way to the 19 yard line. Mischler took it to the end zone himself once again two plays later. Combined with Lupo’s extra point, Prep was ahead 21-10 with 6:02 left in the half.
TJ’s 4th drive was their time to respond, but the Jaguars still came up without any points. Stump had an 11 yard pass completion off of a diving catch by Fairman. The rest of the drive was controlled by the running game. Vigna ran for 12 yards while running back Max Shaw ran for 4 yards. After an incomplete pass that was batted down and nearly intercepted, Thomas Jefferson was forced to punt.
On the 24 yard line, Prep began their 6th drive with a phenomenal 58 yard bomb thrown by Mischler, putting Prep 9 yards away from the end zone. After an incomplete pass and a fakse start call on the Ramblers, Prep was placed at the 14 yard line. On 2nd and 14, Mischler ran the ball again and gained 13 yards. With 1 yard to go, Prep turned to Matthew Bauer, who powered and steamrolled his way into the end zone. Combined with the extra point, Prep was ahead 28-10 with 1:15 left in the half.
With little time left in the half, TJ decided to run the clock out and attempt a couple of running plays. After halftime, the Jaguars were still caught in a rut. Prep’s defense held the TJ offense for not single first down in the drive. However, Thomas Jefferson’s defense responded on Prep’s next drive. After TJ’s punt to the 37 yard line, Mischler threw another bomb, but this time the Ramblers were called for holding and were brought back 17 yards. After two more pass attempts came up empty and a run that came up short by Mischler, Prep had to punt. Mischler’s punt, however, was phenomenal, landing and rolling all the way to TJ’s 3 yard line.
On the Jaguars’ 7th drive, Prep was extremely close to forcing a safety. Stump was barely able to make a quick pass to receiver Nick Urbanowicz, who was able to run all the way to the 48 yard line. The rest of the drive was slow and methodical, but eventually Thomas Jefferson was in scoring range. Later in the drive and at the 25 yard line, Stump made a bold pass into the end zone that was nearly caught, but luckily broken up by cornerback Amory Coleman-Reeves. After a run by Vigna, TJ attempted a shuttle pass to the star RB, but he was immediately tackled by Bauer. After a bogus call on Bauer for defensive holding, focus shifted on an injured player. Justin Vigna was down and it seemed like he wasn’t going to participate in the next drive. After being taken off the field and onto the sidelines, it was apparent that he was out for the rest of the game. Following this injury, the momentum of the drive was complete deflated. After a six yard run by Stump, his next three pass attempts into the end zone were deflected and incomplete, resulting in a turnover on downs.
Mischler once again showed his ability as a dual threat QB in Prep’s 8th drive of the game. After a 4 yard run by himself, he carried the ball once again and reached the 45 yard line. He was shoved after the play by a pursuer, resulting in a late hit violation on the Jaguars and a five yard advancement for Prep. Mischler then threw yet another high arcing pass, this time for a 39 yard gain caught by Roberts. After a loss of one on an attempted run, Mischler threw for 2 yards to receiver Adam Malesiewski. After the extra point, Prep had a commanding 35-10 lead over the Jaguars.
After an onside kick by Lupo that was kicked too close to the line, TJ started with the ball at the 47 yard line. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, Stump threw an interception on the second play of the drive, right into the arms of safety Luke Sittinger. Five plays later, however, Thomas Jefferson clapped back with an interception of their own, this time by Fairman.
Spotted right at the 50 yard line, TJ was desperate to score a touchdown with less than quarter of football to play. Stump had a bug throw to Fairman on 3rd and 8, who was able to run to the 12 yard line. An even more intense situation came during a 4th and 4 predicament later in the drive. Barely, Stump was able to throw for another first down, this time for 10 yards and inches away from scoring a touchdown. Shaw ran the next play for touchdown, finally giving the Jaguars some points. After the extra point was made and tallied, TJ trailed 35-17 with 6:47 left in the game.
TJ attempted an onside kick but, coincidentally, they were offsides when they kicked. After the violation was called, TJ kicked again, this time allowing Roberts to run once again off of the return and onto Thomas Jefferson’s 35 yard line. After a failed shuffle pass, Mischler decided to give the ball to Lucas and let him run the ball. While milking the clock, Prep was also able to score another touchdown. Lucas ran for 29 yards on his first attempt, juking out defenders and swiftly reaching the red zone. With only 7 yards to go, Lucas ran once more for a touchdown. Combined with the extra point, Prep scored their final 7 points of the game with 5:22 left in the contest.
Starting their 10th drive at the 24 yard line, the outcome of victory for the Jaguars looked bleak. After a five yard pass to Fairman, RB Jack Mich was able to run to the 43 yard line. This success did not carry over for the rest of the drive. After multiple incomplete passes and yard losses, TJ was forced to punt on 4th and 13.
With little time left in the game, Prep decided to run the clock by running the ball. TJ held them back, not allowing a single first down. After the Ramblers turned the ball over on 4th down, the Jaguars decided to concede the game by kneeling the ball and letting the clock run out.
Although Thomas Jefferson was one of Prep’s toughest opponents this season, they were still unable to defeat this year’s Prep roster. Cathedral Prep will move on next week to play against the 13-0 Berks Catholic Saints. The Saints defeated Bishop McDevitt on Friday 45-24, showing that they are a capable of going toe to toe with the Ramblers. On the eastern side of PA, Imhotep Charter will be facing off against Bethlehem Catholic, who barely defeated Sellinsgrove High School 33-32. If Imhotep wins and Prep comes out with the victory, these two teams will be facing each other for the third consecutive year in the state finals.
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