CHARLOTTE — Matthew Jeffries’ last homecoming was his most productive day as a J.C. Smith Golden Bull.
The senior receiver scored a career-best three touchdowns on seven receptions in the Golden Bulls’ 27-21 CIAA South win against St. Augustine’s Saturday at McGirt Field. The victory was J.C. Smith’s third in a row, its first such streak since 2006 and put the Golden Bulls (5-4, 4-2 CIAA) one away from back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1973.
“I’ve never caught three (touchdowns in a game) in my life,” said Jeffries, whose scores covered 20, 22 and 23 yards. “This day means a lot. It’s my last homecoming. I enjoyed every bit of it.”
Said J.C. Smith coach Steve Aycock: “He’s an exciting player. He works hard during the week. He’s one of those guys you can feed the ball to and can make big plays.”
St. Augustine’s (5-4, 3-3), which dropped to third in the division behind Winston-Salem State and J.C. Smith, had its chances. The Falcons opened the scoring with a 16-yard pass from Teddy Bacote to all-CIAA receiver Tyrone Laughinghouse (seven receptions for 104 yards, 2 TDs), but couldn’t contain Jeffries, who amassed 128 receiving yards, or produce a game-changing play.
“It was mental lapses on both offense and defense and we just didn’t make plays when we needed to,” said Bacote, who connected on 25-of-45 passes for 290 yards and a pair of scores to Laughinghouse, including a 14-yarder with 1 minute, 48 seconds left to pull St. Augustine’s to within six. “But all credit goes to (J.C. Smith). They executed.”
The 6-4, 205-pound Jeffries took advantage of physical mismatches against St. Augustine’s smaller defensive backs, going high to snag passes when J.C. Smith needed big plays. Jeffries and quarterback Keahn Wallace, who hit 16-of-27 passes for 316 yards and four scores, exploited that difference in single coverage to keep the Falcons honest.
“In practice this week, my coach told me I just had to make plays,” Jeffries said. “I knew they were going to try to be physical with me.”
St. Augustine’s, which trailed 14-7 at halftime, rallied to within 20-14 when Phillip English scored on a 5-yard run with 4:13 in the third, but J.C. Smith responded with a 52-yard touchdown pass to Dedrick Anderson.