McFerrin, Jefferson win Class AA state championship

ATLANTA — Bryant Shirreffs gained 310 total yards and rushed for three touchdowns to lead Jefferson to its first state title with a 31-14 victory over Calhoun in the Class AA championship game Saturday.

Shirreffs, who was of 12 of 18 passing for 171 yards, carried 24 times for 139 and scored on runs of runs of 2, 1 and 1 yards as Jefferson won its 14th consecutive game after an opening loss to Commerce. It also gave legendary Jefferson head coach T. McFerrin, formerly the head coach at South Gwinnett, his second career state title along with one at Elbert County in 1995. McFerrin, a 300-game winner, has taken eight different schools to the playoffs.

The victory snapped a 29-game winning streak by Calhoun, which was trying for a second consecutive 15-0 season after beating Buford 27-24 in overtime last year for the Class AA championship.

Calhoun's Taylor Lamb completed 26 of 39 passes for 279 yards, connecting with Tydus Curtis for a 75-yard TD and hitting Logan Walraven from 17 yards out.

Jefferson's only previous trips to the championship game came in 1975 and 1977, while Calhoun was playing for a title for the fifth consecutive year. The Yellow Jackets lost three straight times to Buford before winning last year.

Calhoun cut Jefferson's lead to a touchdown when Lamb hit Curtis deep midway in the third quarter on the first play after Carter Edwards intercepted Shirreffs' pass at the 25-yard line. Curtis had six catches for 134 yards.

But Lamb was picked off by Micah Carpenter right after a Jefferson fumble and Shirreffs scored from a yard out late in the third quarter to put the Dragons up by two touchdowns again.

Chandler Schlutow's 36-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter padded the lead.

It was the second state championship for Jefferson's T. McFerrin. The veteran coach won a Class AA title at Elbert County in 1995.

Jefferson led 21-7 at halftime and Calhoun's touchdown was set up by a Dragons turnover.

Tristen Jackson, who finished with 85 yards on 18 carries, scored from the 1-yard line to cap a 14-play, 74-yard drive following the opening kickoff. But Calhoun's Tristan Fuller recovered a Jefferson fumble at the Dragons' 29 and Lamb hit Walraven for a 17-yard TD with 29 seconds left in the first quarter to tie the game.

The second quarter belonged to Jefferson. Shirreffs capped a 70-yard drive with a 2-yard run and the Dragons then went 86 yards after stopping Calhoun on fourth down. Shirreffs passed Jefferson down the field and scored on a sneak from a yard out.