It wasn’t exactly an ideal time to have to reach for a backup quarterback.
But Dominique Jefferson was more than ready for the challenge.
Jefferson, a sophomore in waiting, ignited the Goose Creek Gators during a crucial stretch in the second quarter as they extended their win streak to 35 games with a 49-21 win over Wando on Friday.
“I was really impressed with (Jefferson),” said Gators coach Chuck Reedy, whose team improved to 9-0 overall and 2-0 in Region 7-AAAA. “He came in and did a heck of a job … he made some good throws and had some good runs. The game was certainly in doubt at that time and he stepped in and did a great job.”
Jefferson’s 15-yard touchdown run on a fourth-down play gave the Gators a 20-14 lead with 2:50 left in the first half.
“We let him make the read and he made the play,” Reedy said.
Later, he found receiver Jordan Barnes in the back corner of the end zone for a 10-yard scoring strike with five seconds left in the half to make it 35-21.
Starting quarterback Dantez Bennamon returned in the third quarter from an ankle injury to toss two touchdowns, one a 9-yarder to Dijon Profit and the other a 12-yarder to Barnes for the rest of the points the Gators needed.
For a stretch, starting running back Caleb Kinlaw was out with an injury too after racing 70 yards for Goose Creek’s first score late in the first quarter.
And junior Tyrik Johnson filled in admirably again.
Johnson’s 46-yarder capped Jefferson’s second drive in for Bennamon and put the Gators on top for good with 47 seconds left in the half. Deondre Daniels added the two-point conversion run as Goose Creek led 28-21.
After a Shaquille Salley fumble recovery, Jefferson’s touchdown pass to Barnes seemed to squash Wando’s upset hopes.
“Wando played hard,” Reedy said. “Some times you’ve got to win when you don’t play your best.”
The Warriors fell to 3-6 overall and 1-2 in Region 7-AAAA games.
Like Bennamon, Kinlaw also returned in the second half. He finished with 135 yards rushing and the one long touchdown. Bennamon ran for 66 yards and passed for 106 on 5 of 11 through the air.
Jefferson added 46 yards rushing and Johnson chipped in 39 yards. Fullback Evan McField had 62 yards and scored on a 1-yard plunge during Goose Creek’s 28-point second quarter.
Daniels had two catches for 74 yards and both of Barnes’ catches were touchdowns.
The Gators amassed 510 yards of total offense and held Wando down to 261 yards despite a good first half by the Warriors.
William Coleman had touchdown strikes of 12 and 44 yards to Trevor Behrens in the first quarter as Wando led 14-7.
Trevor Pederson scored on a 5-yard run with 1:38 left in the half to give the Warriors a 21-20 lead before Goose Creek came alive to put up 29 unanswered points behind Jefferson.
Wando had 169 yards in the first half but had less than 100 in the second half.
“I think we kind of settled in to what they were doing,” Goose Creek defensive coordinator Chris Candor said. “We made some adjustments and got a feel for the game. We did a good job tackling in space. I thought Maurice Bonneau-Gailliard had his best game out there, making tackles on a pretty athletic running back (Kenny Waring).”
The Gators host West Ashley on Thursday night in a Region 7-AAAA contest that will be televised locally.
The Wildcats lost to Stratford 21-0 on Friday to fall to 5-4 overall and 0-2 in region play. Still, they’re much improved from last fall when they went 1-10.
“They’re a much better football team,” Reedy said. “They’re looking at having a winning record. They’ve got some good athletes and we’ve got a short week. We’ve got some guys banged up so we’ll have our hands full.”