SIOUX CITY - The Thomas Jefferson football season started much like the weather Thursday night at Olsen Stadium as it sputtered out of the gates against Sioux City West.
The game started nearly 30 minutes late due to lightning, and a little more than a minute into the game, the teams found themselves back in the locker room under another lightning delay.
Already trailing 6-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Jackets fumbled at their own 32, setting the Wolverines up with great field position. However, the defense held, and T.J. was able to drive 76 yards, capped off by a punishing nine-yard touchdown run from senior Jermaine Green.
But, before the point after could even be attempted, the teams were back in the locker room for a third lightning delay.
“The only time we did a lot of talking was during the second weather break,” T.J. coach Brant Anderson said. “It was almost like a halftime. But we weren’t trying to coach them through a weather break. We were kind of letting them relax.”
Whatever the coaches did during that break worked, as the Yellow Jackets capped off a dominant second quarter that carried into the second half.
The impressive second quarter was spurred by big plays from sophomore JJ Johanns. The 5-foot-4 sophomore ripped off a 27-yard run in the quarter in addition to hauling in a 41-yard reception, followed by another covering 22 yards for a touchdown.
“He does a really good job of doing things right all the time,” Anderson said of his sophomore playmaker. “He made some big plays.”
In the second quarter, the Jackets ran 18 plays for 156 yards. Conversely, T.J. held the Wolverines to minus-four yards on 13 plays.
T.J. continued to grind it out on the ground in the third quarter as the Jackets held the ball for more than 10 minutes. Although the Jackets weren’t able to add to their lead in the third quarter, Green made sure that didn’t last long as he scampered 18 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter for his second touchdown of the night. Green finished with a game-high 101 yards on 22 carries.
While the Jackets were able to amass 19 points in the second half, it was their defense that stole the show. Coach Anderson couldn’t remember the last time they held a team to single digits, but that’s exactly what they did Thursday night thanks in large part to forcing five turnovers, including four interceptions.
“I’ve said this before ... we play a high risk, high reward defense,” Anderson said. “Sometimes we give up some big plays; sometimes we get some big plays back.
“The kids know we need to get turnovers. They know when the ball is in the air, it’s just as much ours as it is theirs.”
Senior Qu’ran Owens finished the game with two interceptions. Sophomore Austin Schubert collected one, and freshman Tyson Watts picked off the fourth West pass of the evening. Johanns, who starred on offense, also recovered a fumble and returned it 36 yards, setting up the final Jacket touchdown.
Junior Josh Whitelaw powered in from three yards out to make the game 25-6. Junior Dylan Carman capped off the scoring with a one-yard plunge for the final margin.
Thomas Jefferson is back in action next Thursday night on the same field facing a different Sioux City foe -- the Stars from Sioux City North. A year ago, the two teams combined for 180 points as the Jackets outlasted their opponent 99-81.
“When you have success, human nature is to relax,” Anderson said. “But the right thing to do when you have success is to get more hungry, work harder.
“We just have to get better.”
Thomas Jefferson (1-0) 0 12 0 19 - 31
Sioux City West (0-1) 6 0 0 0 - 6
SCW: Devin Frye 21 run (kick failed)
TJ: Green 9 run (kick failed)
TJ: JJ Johanns 22 pass from Austin Schubert (kick failed)
TJ: Green 18 run (kick failed)
TJ: Josh Whitelaw 3 run (Harold kick)
TJ: Dylan Carman 1 run (Kick no good)