Jefferson High made things closer than they could have been in its Class 5A play-in home game against Parkrose on Friday night.
The Democrats dominated most of the play, but with a wet field and costly mistakes, they allowed Parkrose to give them a scare heading into the fourth quarter.
Jefferson saw its 24-7 halftime lead cut to 24-19 late in the third quarter. Then the Demos' defense stiffened and the offense scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to seal a 36-19 win and send Jefferson into the 16-team state tournament.
The Demos (6-4) will travel to Mountain View (8-1) next Friday.
'We persevered,' Demos coach Anthony Stoudamire said after the play-in victory. 'Parkrose was pretty much dead and buried at halftime, and we gave them life. But then we were able to bounce back and get some momentum going and put them away in the fourth quarter.'
The Demos led 8-7 before either team had run a play from scrimmage.
Parkrose return man Deontre Curry-Moore took the opening kickoff 80 yards back for a touchdown to put the Broncos up 7-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jeff return man Vontrell Mills fielded the ball and streaked 82 yards into the end zone.
'I was so pumped because Parkrose had just taken one back,' Mills said. 'I saw open field and just took it to the house.'
Jamarta'e Brown caught a pass from Deven Jackson on the two-point conversion to put the Demos up 8-7.
Almost immediately after Mills' kickoff return, the skies opened up and a driving rain poured down. Neither offense could get its footing, or hold on to the ball.
Parkrose, which finished its season at 3-7, fumbled on the Jefferson 11-yard line and Jeff running back Richard Ramsey fumbled into the end zone on the following drive.
Ramsey more than made up for it, though. On his way to rushing for 248 yards, Ramsey scored a 35-yard TD with 5:46 remaining in the second quarter.
'I was just following my fullback into the hole,' Ramsey said. 'Then I broke off him and just ran it.'
Tony Unga ran in the two-point conversion and Jeff led 16-7.
Jefferson took a 24-7 lead when Unga scored on a 14-yard run and Ramsey ran in the conversion.
'I just followed Sam Barron and the offensive line and got it clean through,' Unga said.
The rain subsided in the second half, but the field remained muddy and slick.
On the first play of the third quarter, Jefferson quarterback Deven Jackson was hit in the backfield. Jackson lost control of the ball. Broncos defensive lineman Chris Fields picked the ball up and ran it 35 yards into the end zone to make the score 24-13.
Parkrose running back Henry Vy then took an 11-yard inside tackle handoff into the end zone to get the Broncos within 24-19.
Going into the fourth quarter, Barron - a 5-11, 210-pound senior who plays linebacker when on defense - challenged the Demos.
"I asked the defense, do they have my back?' Barron said. 'They said they had my back. They said they didn't want to have me go home. I'm a senior. This wasn't going to be my last game.'
The Demos responded to Barron's challenge.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Jefferson forced a fumble on a punt and took over on the 50-yard line.
Two plays later, Jackson connected with Ray Burney III for a 27-yard TD.
'Ray Burney just did his job,' Jackson said. 'He's my playmaker on this team. I trust him a lot.'
Unga sealed the victory late in the fourth quarter when he made a leaping, one-handed grab on a pass from Jackson and took the ball 35 yards into the end zone.
'It was kind of overthrown, but I took the risk of throwing one hand up and trying to get the ball and just bringing it in,' Unga said.
If the Demos have a shot at advancing, they will need to clean up their mistakes.
'We've got to cut down on our mistakes,' Stoudamire said. 'Too many penalties. Too many mistakes. We still need to work a little bit on our execution. You're talking about a round of 16 and you're talking about the 16 top teams in the state. It's going to be tough.'