CENTER TWP., Pa. — Thomas Jefferson (7-0, 4-0), defeated Central Valley (6-1, 4-0) 28-3 in a nonconference matchup to remain undefeated.
Both teams are on a short list of favorites to win a WPIAL Championship in their respective conferences at the end of November and Friday’s game was a good chance to see where they measured up at the half-way point of the season.
Central Valley opened the scoring late in the first quarter when Ethan Ott connected on a 34-yard field goal. The score was set up when Warriors quarterback Ameer Dudley found Jawon Hall for a 50-yard reception down the near sideline.
The big play was encouraging for Central Valley, which thought the big plays were a way to pull off the upset, but the 50-yard pass was the last splash play the Warriors would convert.
The 3-0 deficit was the first time the Jaguars have trailed the season, but it wouldn’t last long.
The Warriors held the lead for 7:33 before the Jaguars converted a short field going 33 yards in just under a minute capped off by a five-yard run by Dylan Mallozzi to give Thomas Jefferson a 7-3 lead.
The Jaguars scored six minutes later, again, thanks to a short field. A well-designed screen pass led to a 15-yard touchdown pass from Shane Stump to James Martinis for 15 yards.
Two times Thomas Jefferson started with the ball in plus territory, and twice they scored touchdowns as the Jaguars carried a 14-3 lead into the half.
Mallozzi scored twice in the second half on two separate runs of 12 yards as the senior was featured heavily in the second half.
Mallozzi finished with 162 yards on 20 carries and the three touchdowns.
Stump was in control of the offense all night finishing a strong 9-14 for 157 yards and the one touchdown.
Six different players caught passes for the Jaguars led by junior Preston Zandier.
For Central Valley, Dudley finished 7-15 for 104 yards. Jalen Guy was unable to find any traction against a stout Thomas Jefferson defense amassing only 48 yards on the ground.
Thomas Jefferson faces Laurel Highlands next week and all three of the team’s remaining games are 4A Big Eight Conference matchups.
Central Valley travels down the road to Hopewell next week and will close the season with three 3A Tri-County West games including a season finale against Aliquippa.