SEDALIA — Damon Wells has preached and seen improvement from the Jefferson City football team every week this season.
On the road Friday against Smith-Cotton, that improvement was evident more than ever in the Jays 49-0 win against the Tigers in a Central Missouri Activities Conference clash.
David Bethune had three rushing scores, all in the first half, to lead Jefferson City (1-3, 1-1 CMAC) while Kevion Pendelton and Hayden Wells each added a pair of scores with their legs in a team performance that was dominant on both sides of the ball in the team's first win of 2021 and its first under Wells.
"It's great to get that one, but we certainly didn't start the season and plan on getting one win, so this is just part of the journey," Wells said. "It's part of the process. We'll enjoy this tonight."
The Tigers (1-3, 0-2 CMAC) offense was without starting quarterback Lane Simmons, but with the Jays dominance with its front seven, it likely wouldn't have mattered who was under center.
Pressure from the defensive line lead to multiple sacks and was key in the two interceptions that quarterback Brady Anderson threw.
The defense also stopped Smith-Cotton on fourth down four different times, with three of those being occasions where the defensive line stopped runs up the middle. The defensive line looked solid for most of the night even without starter Brody Smith.
"I thought we tackled very well tonight," Wells said.
Replacing linebacker Will Berendzen, Cohen Davis and Jackson Figo each made big plays after being thrust into action.
Davis made multiple tackles to show his range as a linebacker and jumped into the backfield with Seth Brooks while both pounced on a fumble in the first half. Figo snagged a short throw with just under 20 seconds left in the second quarter to thwart the Tigers' final drive of the half.
Back on offense, Bethune scored three times on four touches between the first and second quarters. He opened the scoring with an 11-yard scamper with 4:23 left in the first before a pair of scores in the second quarter.
Pendelton took the reigns on the next drive with a 4-yard score with 30 seconds left in the first to put Jefferson City up multiple possessions.
The very next Jays offensive play, Bethune scored on what would have been a 34-yard score, switching directions to leave the whole Smith-Cotton defense in the dust, but the play was called back for holding. All that ended up doing was pad Bethune's yardage total when he sprinted past the defense for a 44-yard score on the next play after blockers provided him with even more space, putting the Jays up 20-0 with 10:08 left in the second
After a fourth-down stop, Bethune ran for a 39-yard score on his next touch with 7:18 left in the second quarter, navigating a convoy of Jays blockers that got an instant push off the snap to put the team up 27-0 at the half. He nearly had four scores in five carries, but a 16-yard run on the last play of the half ended with him being stopped inches from the end zone while there was also a flag on the field for holding.
Pendelton bulldozed for a 1-yard score in the third quarter while Hayden Wells flashed some speed by rolling out and beating multiple defenders to the pile-on on two straight possessions in the fourth for 3- and 5-yard touchdowns.
"I'm glad the kids were able to get rewarded for their hard work," Wells said. "We're a little bit different, they have been rewarded. They've played a pretty tough schedule and they've competed."
The Jays continue CMAC play against Capital City at 7 p.m. next Friday at Adkins Stadium.