When in doubt, give the ball to Arthur Sutton.
That strategy, employed by Thomas Jefferson head coach Josef Harrison, proved to be fruitful on Friday afternoon.
The senior running back ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns, while the Vikings defense held strong in a 37-0 victory over city rival John Marshall.
“What I love about the running game is that it’s something that keeps churning out,” Harrison said. “That’s what I like about Arthur Sutton being in the backfield. We’re just getting better each and every day.”
The first points of the game came in fairly unconventional fashion. With 6:56 left in the opening quarter, a host of Vikings defenders converged on John Marshall punter Malik Byrd. The blocked punt was recovered by a John Marshall player in the end zone for a safety.
The Vikings’ offense took awhile to get the legs churning. Midway through the second quarter, Sutton returned a John Marshall punt to the visitors’ 10-yard line. On the ensuing play, he bounced outside the tackles and into the end zone for the first touchdown of the contest.
It was part of a second-quarter offensive barrage that saw Teejay (4-1) score on three consecutive plays from scrimmage. Following a botched John Marshall snap that the Vikings pounced on, quarterback Josiah Hargrove lofted a beautiful fade pass in the near corner of the end zone that sophomore Dashsaun Stovall hauled in with ease to give the Vikings a 16-0 advantage.
With less than four minutes remaining in the half, Byrd had difficulties with the snap and was tackled by a swarm of Vikings at the 5-yard line. Teejay took advantage, as Sutton promptly plunged into the end zone for his second score of the day.
The Justices (0-3) accumulated less than 70 yards of total offense, while quarterback Jaevion Trent was intercepted twice and sacked four times. Teejay shut out its crosstown foes for the second consecutive time in the long-standing series, one which was briefly interrupted last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Fast, physical, and very smart,” Harrison said of his team’s smothering defensive performance. “Didn’t give up too much. There’s some work we have to do in making sure we line up right and take advantage of what we’ve been given.”
In the third quarter, Sutton broke free for the first time, blazing down the sideline for a 45-yard touchdown on the opening play of the half.
It was his third touchdown of the afternoon, as Sutton reached the century mark in rushing yards in a gaudy offensive performance.
John Marshall 0 0 0 0 — 0
Thomas Jefferson 2 22 13 0 — 37
TJ — Team safety
TJ — Sutton 9 run (Williamson kick)
TJ — Perry 20 pass from Hargrove (Williamson kick)
TJ — Sutton 5 run (Fowler run)
TJ — Sutton 45 run (Williamson kick)
TJ — Stovall 3 run (kick failed)
Jayem — Powell 12-18, Tyler 6-12, McCowan 1-1, Teal 2-1, Trent 7-minus 20. Teejay — Sutton 12-103, Stovall 9-62, Hargrove 4-14.
Jayem — Trent 4-17, 49 yds, 0 TD, 2 INT. Teejay — Hargrove 4-10, 44 yds, TD.
Jayem — Peck 2-28, Tyler 1-13, McCowan 1-8. Teejay — Perry 2-30, Johnson 1-8, Jackson 1-6.