JEFFERSON — Jefferson-Morgan coach Aaron Giorgi felt his team was much better than what it had shown going into its Tri-County South game against Mapletown.
The Rockets had been outscored by a combined 78-0 in losing their first two games to Waynesburg Central and Chartiers-Houston, but it was their turn to pitch a shutout last Friday night.
Jonathan Wolfe rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown and Cole Jones threw for 119 yards and two scores as J-M rolled over the Maples, 42-0, at Parker Field.
“It was nice to play to our potential,” Giorgi said. “That’s what we’ve been talking about all offseason and the summer and the start of this season. The last two weeks I don’t think were indicative of our potential. It’s nice to see the kids play a team game today and play up to the level they’re capable of.”
Liam Ankrom also rushed for 100 yards for Jefferson-Morgan (1-1, 1-2) and Colt Fowler had three receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown and also ran in a trio of two-point conversions.
The loss hurt Mapletown (0-1, 1-2) more than just in the standings. Seven Maples starters went down with injuries early in the game, including running backs Landon Stevenson, Lance Stevenson and Zach Greene.
“Unreal,” Mapletown coach George Messich said. “Landon hurt his knee. I think Lance has a concussion. Zach Greene has a bad ankle. We basically came into every game with three running backs and today they all got hurt.
“We lost seven starters tonight in the first half. We threw a lot of young people into the fire who are young, and they tried. But you take seven starters off your team, I don’t care what level you are, it’s going to effect you. I don’t know how the Steelers would do if you took seven starters away from them during a game.”
Messich took nothing away from the Rockets’ performance, however.
“J-M’s got some tough kids,” Messich said. “The Wolfe kid ran really hard. I thought they threw the ball well. I have to give them credit, they played a hard football game.”
The Maples shot themselves in the foot three times early in the game with turnovers.
The Rockets’ Andrew Vessels recovered a fumble hear midfield and marched down to the Mapletown 5 before settling on a 22-yard field goal attempt, but the kick was blocked.
Three plays later Tyler Kniha intercepted a pass at the Maples 25 and this time J-M made Mapletown pay for its mistake. Jones completed a fourth-and-1 pass to Josh Wise for 16 yards to the 11 and two plays later connected with Fowler for a 5-yard TD toss and a 6-0 lead.
The Rockets took advantage of another Mapletown miscue late in the quarter when a high snap sailed into the end zone and Colby Rutan recovered for a touchdown. Fowler’s two-point run made it 14-0.
It was Mapletown’s turn to play take away in the second quarter as Lance Stevenson intercepted a pass at the J-M 41. After allowing a 15-yard run by Landon Stevenson, the Rockets’ defense forced a punt and J-M marched 80 yards for another touchdown, all on the ground. Wolfe capped the nine-play drive with an 11-yard run.
The Maples moved deep into Jefferson-Morgan territory on its next possession as Max Vanata completed passes of 30 yards to Landon Stevenson and 15 yards to Chuckie Lash but the drive ended at the J-M 4 thanks to an interception by Austin Geho.
The Rockets put the game away with a pair of touchdown drives in the third quarter. Wolfe’s 22-yard run was followed two plays later by Ankrom’s 29-yard touchdown run just 1:06 into the second half.
After J-M forced a three-and-out, Wolfe busted loose for consecutive 20-yard runs and Jones hit Kniha with a 32-yard pass to the Mapletown 9. Jones connected with Kniha again for a 15-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to put the hosts up 36-0 and set the mercy rule into motion.
Six of Wolfe’s 11 runs went for 10 or more yards as the 5-11, 220-pound junior continually broke tackles and bounced off Mapletown defenders.
“That’s why it pays to lift for three years,” Wolfe said of his conditioning program. “We were really determined to put some points up today.”
“He showed another gear that I really didn’t know he had,” Giorgi said of Wolfe. “It was nice to see him running hard. Liam Ankrom ran very well, too.”
Dalton Heath’s 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter capped the game’s scoring.
Giorgi commended his boys in the trenches.
“We knew we were returning some linemen back that could play football,” Giorgi said. “It just took a couple weeks to get them going and today it just all came together. It was a nice team win.”
Greene led the Maples with 43 rushing yards and Lash, usually a wide receiver, added 37 yards on the ground. Landon Stevenson ran for 30 yards before the knee injury ended his night in the second quarter.
“It’s unfortunate,” Giorgi said of Mapletown’s rash of injuries. “It’s football, injuries do happen. But you never want to see injuries to another team.”
Messich didn’t feel many of his wounded would be back in time for a Week Three game against West Greene.
“Right now if we get one of them back next week we’re going to be lucky,” Messich said, “because they’re hurt pretty bad.”