It was a night for everyone to get in on the fun for the Jefferson City Jays.
Eight players recorded a carry for the second-seeded Jays, five players scored touchdowns and Jefferson City ran away with a 63-16 victory Friday against the No. 7 seed Fulton Hornets in the first round of the Class 4 District 5 Tournament at Adkins Stadium.
The Jays earned themselves another home playoff game as they will host sixth-seeded Marshall, which defeated No. 3 seed Van Horn 24-15, at 7 p.m. Friday at Adkins Stadium.
“We preached it all last year, we didn’t get as many weeks (in the playoffs) as we wanted,” Jefferson City quarterback Jacob Wilson said. “We are preaching it again this year. Another game at Adkins, what else can I ask for? Another game of football.”
The first quarter belonged to junior running back Jaiden LaViolette.
LaViolette rushed the ball six times in the opening quarter for 115 yards and was able to score Jefferson City’s first three touchdowns. He opened the second possession with a 60-yard touchdown run on the first play, added an 11-yard score on the next possession and then a 14-yard touchdown on the following drive.
“It was just kind of like, ‘OK, I’m back in my groove,’” he said. “After the second one, it was like, ‘OK, I’m moving again’ and then the third one I had to push for it.”
It was a big moment for LaViolette as his playing time has dipped throughout the season.
Friday marked the first carries for LaViolette since Week 7 against Helias, and he made the most of it with 10 carries for 187 yards and four touchdowns, all coming in the first half.
He was determined to run his way into more playing time.
“It feels good,” LaViolette said. “… The coaches have to make the best decision to win games, and for a couple weeks I was not that decision. Tonight, I got to step back up and play again. I tried to show my talent and earn a spot back while helping us get through districts and to state.”
The lead stood at 21-8 for the Jays following LaViolette’s third touchdown as Fulton was able to add its lone touchdown against Jefferson City’s starting defense on its second drive.
Facing a second-and-25 at the Jays’ 32-yard line, the Hornets pulled out a flea flicker that left tight end Qailen Chambers all alone behind the Jefferson City secondary for a touchdown.
“They scored a touchdown, which we always want to put up a goose egg, but we never saw that on film,” Wilson said. “It is what it is. I’m really happy that everyone stayed locked in.”
The second quarter was an onslaught of touchdowns for the Jays.
Zach Barnes ran in the first score from four yards out just more than two minutes in, and Kane Fuelling immediately got the ball back for the Jays on the ensuing kickoff.
Wilson kicked the ball short to about the Fulton 40, and the Hornets up man did not call for a fair catch. Fuelling timed it well and was able to hit the returner a split second after he caught the ball, forcing and then recovering a fumble to set up Jefferson City with a 37-yard field.
“I know coach is always telling us to get the ball back, so that’s what I was trying to do,” Fuelling said. “I really wanted to get up and run for the touchdown, but I primarily just wanted to get on it and make sure we got another touchdown.”
Bradarious Lewis added a 35-yard touchdown run three plays later, LaViolette ran in his fourth TD from 18 yards out on the next possession, Wilson picked up a 5-yard quarterback sneak touchdown and Barnes scored from 7 yards out with 1:32 left before the half to send Jefferson City into the locker room with a 57-8 lead.
The Jays ended the first half with 484 yards rushing on 31 carries (15.6 per attempt).
“That’s pretty cool,” Jefferson City senior left tackle Ben Bates said. “It didn’t really feel like that. I felt like we were scoring so fast. I didn’t realize how fast it was going to go and then just like that we were out of the game.”
Jefferson City kept its starting offense have one play on the first drive of the second half to allow the crowd to applaud its success, and then it was time for the Jays’ JV offense to get its turn.
The JV offense was able to punch in the team’s final score on that drive as freshman Tanner Wingrath capped off the 53-yard drive with a walk-in touchdown on a toss play.
“It’s nice, especially seeing them against a varsity defense,” Wilson said. “Seeing the future of the program, seeing that we are going to be successful. What I saw is that we have athletes, we have people that already know what’s happening. They are going to build so much and grow from it.”
The Hornets scored the lone touchdown of the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by lineman DeShawn Holt-Jett to create the final margin.
LaViolette led the way for Jefferson City (6-4) with his big night, Lewis added 177 yards and a score on eight carries, Barnes ran for 74 yards and two scores, Wilson finished with 70 rushing yards and a touchdown and Wingrath’s lone carry went for a touchdown.
Fulton (1-9) was led by running back Malik Douglas, who accounted for 157 of the Hornets’ 200 yards.