Thomas Jefferson manhandles Montour

Friday, November 1, 2019 | 10:49 PM

A relentless offense and a suffocating defense.

Those were keys to Thomas Jefferson’s success throughout the regular season as it outscored opponents, 482-33.

The top-seeded Jaguars continued their domination with a convincing 49-7 victory over No. 8 Montour in the first round of the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs Friday night at Jaguars Stadium.

Shane Stump threw for nearly 200 yards and finished with four total touchdowns, while Dylan Mallozzi ran for over 150 yards and two scores. TJ’s defense forced three turnovers — a pair of interceptions and a fumble — and allowed the Spartans to gain 171 yards of total offense, most of which came in the second half.

“That is a quality team and this was by no means easy. (Montour) was physical, they moved the ball, and it was a fight,” TJ coach Bill Cherpak said. “I think the kids prepared so well all week with focus. I think they’re getting that mentality that if we do our stuff right and control the stuff we can control, then we can be successful.”

TJ (11-0) took a quick 21-0 lead after scoring on each of its first three drives. Mallozzi made it a seven-point game with a 2-yard touchdown run in the opening four minutes of the game before Stump threw 25-yard scores to Dan Deabner and Ian Hansen with the latter making it a three-possession game early in the second quarter.

Stump added a 7-yard touchdown pass to Deabner in the final minute of the first half and finished 14 of 17 for 191 yards, three touchdown passes and a 1-yard touchdown run. Deabner was his top target, bringing in six catches for 87 yards and two scores. Hansen added five catches for 77 yards and had a key 76-yard kickoff return late in the second quarter that helped set up Stump’s short-yardage score.

“I think Shane was awesome tonight because he was patient,” Cherpak said of his senior quarterback’s passing performance. “He took the underneath stuff and the short stuff. They didn’t want us to throw deep and we didn’t, but he connected on so many of those underneath routes, and that’s something I think he wouldn’t have done earlier in the season. He did a great job of it.”

Montour (5-6) struck for its lone touchdown with just over three and a half minutes left in the second quarter, taking advantage of a Jaguars fumble. Four plays after the miscue, Dom Magliocco found the end zone from a yard out to cut the Spartans’ deficit to two scores.

TJ responded by scoring on Stump’s touchdown run and his second scoring pass to Deabner, which followed a Deabner interception of Gannon Kadlecik.

“I was happy with the way we responded,” Cherpak said. “We gave up the ball and they scored, and then we scored two quick ones. That was big.”

Montour had four possessions in the second half. Two ended in punts and another resulted in an interception by Preston Zandier. The final drive ended when the clock hit zero.

TJ added on to its lead with second-half touchdown runs of 6 yards from Mallozzi and 4 yards from Dom Donatelli.

TJ’s running game provided a perfect complement to the team’s passing attack as the Jaguars finished with 197 yards on the ground and 388 total yards.

Mallozzi was explosive out of the Jaguars’ backfield, carrying the ball 19 times for 153 yards and two scores.

“He was running downhill. They were physical and have some big guys on the line, so we weren’t getting a bunch of movement and opening massive holes, but he was making things happen,” Cherpak said. “He ran really well and we needed him to.”

With the win, TJ (11-0) advances to the WPIAL semifinals for the eighth consecutive year to face No. 4 Blackhawk for the second year in a row next week at a site to be determined. Blackhawk defeated Greensburg Salem, 36-7, on Friday.

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