Joe Mattessich has spent part of the 2013 season in the lost and found, searching for his Jefferson Falcons.
The coach has found them — and so has the NJAC-Freedom.
After a sloppy first quarter, the Falcons turned on the jets and scored 32 unanswered points over the next 24 minutes on the way to a 32-12 victory over Madison in the NJAC-Freedom last night
The Falcons inched closer to the Freedom regular-season championship. Jefferson visits 1-5 Hackettstown next week and, after a home game against Hoboken in two weeks, will travel to 3-2 Kittatinny on Nov. 8.
After a disturbing 20-13 loss to Dover on Sept. 27, Jefferson has reeled off three wins in a row, including last week’s impressive 37-17 victory at 3-2 Hanover Park.
“We were trying to find ourselves and I think we have,” Mattessich said. “We can beat you in a lot of ways. We can spread out, go power inside and between the tackles.”
Most of all, the Falcons can give the ball to senior quarterback J.R. Reese and see what he can do. That was the winning formula against Madison.
The fleet-footed Reese rushed 13 times for 220 yards and two TDs and was 10 for 21 passing for 211 yards for two more scores.
“J.R. is a threat as a runner and a passer,” Mattessich said. “That gives us more diversity. That is the one thing I liked about tonight was the diversity. J.R. did so many things. He has the ability to make calls at the line. He started making the calls in the second quarter and you saw what that did for us.”
Jefferson did, and so did Madison.
The Dodgers scored the game’s first points when David Luttinger hammered his way in from 6 yards out, but the Falcons dominated the second quarter by scoring 20 straight points for a 20-6 halftime lead.
Jefferson then scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter to go up 32-6 and put the game away.
Reese ran in from 8 yards out to end the scoring for the Falcons.
The previous time Jefferson had the ball, he completed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Vin Ginefra on the Falcons first possession after halftime.
The first half ended with the left-handed Reese throwing a 28-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Tyler Jones to culminate a stunning drive right before intermission.
Jefferson had the ball with under a minute left in the half and went 83 yards to score. Reese, who had 189 yards rushing in the first half alone despite two runs for losses, scampered for 40 yards to put the ball at the Madison 43.
“He knows he has that split second when he has a hole,” Mattessich said. “He just takes it.”
After an incomplete pass, Madison was whistled for pass interference on a Reese pass intended for Tyler Zimmerman, putting the ball at the Dodgers 28 with six seconds left. On the play, Reese’s elusiveness paid off as he sidestepped several Madison pass rushers before he unloaded the pass in the direction of Zimmerman way downfield near the end zone.
On the final play of the half, Reese connected with Jones, who got behind the Madison defense.
Reese broke free for a 38-yard touchdown run midway in the second quarter to put the Falcons ahead, 13-6. He sped through the line, juked past one defender in the secondary, and then outraced another toward the end zone before he scored.
On the previous play, Reese completed a 50-yard pass to Jones by leading the receiver perfectly. Jones ran under hit, putting the ball at the Madison 50.
Jefferson took the lead on its first possession of the second quarter, when Kyle Neuschatz went in from 23 yards out on a running play. On the play right before that, he caught an 8-yard pass from Reese.
“Jones and Neuschatz are terrific athletes and they used their athletic ability tonight,” Mattessich said.
The Falcons defense, led by ends Jason Valentini and Vin Cannarozzi, kept the Dodgers in check for most of the game.
“They set the tone tonight,” Mattessich said.
Darnell St. Germain led the Madison defense with two interceptions. Pat Zimmerman scored a furth-quarter touchdown for the Dodgers.
Madison 0 6 0 6 — 12
Jefferson 0 20 12 0 — 32
M–David Luttinger 6 run (kick failed).
J–Kyle Neuschatz 23 run (Austin Blood kick).
J–J.R. Reese 38 run (kick failed).
J–Tyler Jones 28 pass from Reese (Blood kick).
J–Vin Ginefra 27 pass from Reese (kick failed).
J–Reese 8 run (kick failed).
M–Pat Zimmerman 1 run (kick failed).