ZACHARY — When two teams combine for 987 yards and 95 points, it’s usually safe to say the game was all about offense.
Ultimately, two defensive stops, including a fumble recovery in the end zone by Keenan Tate with 23 seconds left, lifted seventh-ranked Zachary High to a pulsating 49-46 victory over Scotlandville High on Friday night at ZHS’ Bronco Stadium.
“It was incredible,” Zachary coach David Brewerton said. “They played more disciplined than we did tonight. It’s hard to say anybody should have lost this game.
“I think they did enough to win; it just didn’t come out the way they wanted. That we fought for 48 minutes to win … that’s what we’ll build on.”
As expected, the two quarterbacks led the way as Zachary (5-1, 1-0) won the District 4-5A opener. Syracuse commitment Lindsey Scott Jr. of Zachary completed 20 of 24 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a game-high 156 yards and three TDs in 21 carries.
Levi Lewis completed 12 of 15 passes for 306 yards and five TDs for Scotlandville (5-1, 0-1). The junior also ran for 62 yards on nine carries, including two carries for 50 yards on the Hornets’ final possession that set up the final decisive play. Trenton Charles ran for 104 yards on 14 carries for SHS.
There were three 100-yard receivers. Scotlandville’s Chris Johnson caught four passes for 144 yards and two TDs, while Douglas Coleman (5-123, 1 TD) and Shyron White (7-103) led Zachary.
But then there was the defense. Scotlandville coach Robert Valdez called a play that gave the ball to running back Reggie Cleveland from the ZHS 2 with 29 seconds left.
Cleveland was hit by the Broncos’ Ty’Wan Beardon, and Tate recovered in the end zone to seal the win. Beardon had scored on a first-half fumble return for the winners.
“I saw the ball come out and got on top of it,” Tate said. “They are good. This was a big win for our team.”
Valdez noted, “It went down to the wire, and two great teams left it all on the field. And if I had to do it again, I’d give it to my senior (Cleveland). I love that kid and what he means to our program. It was the right call.”
Scotlandville led 34-27 at halftime. Each team scored once in the third quarter. Armstead caught a 6-yard TD pass that sent the Hornets into the fourth quarter with a 40-34 lead.
What happened next was more decisive. Scotlandville scored seven seconds into the fourth quarter when Armstead caught a 34-yard TD strike from Lewis. Even though his team trailed 46-34, Zachary’s Scott was unfazed.
“No matter how many points we’re down, the mentality is, we’re coming back to get the W, and that’s our focus,” Scott said.
So the Broncos countered with an 11-play drive that ended with Scott tossing a 34-yard TD pass to Trae Shropshire with 9:07 remaining. P.J. Cannon then batted away what looked like a sure TD pass to Johnson on Scotlandville’s next possession as Zachary forced a turnover on downs.
Scott scored on a 9-yard run and passed to C.J. Newton for the two-point conversion with 3:41 remaining to close out the scoring.
“Our game plan was to have controlled rushes and not worry about sacks, because he’s prolific running the football,” Brewerton said. “He was prolific throwing the ball. I’ll continue to say we’re proud to have Lindsey Scott as our quarterback. He did a great job again tonight.”
Zachary led 7-6 after the first quarter. Trenton Charles scored on a 46-yard run to open the scoring for Scotlandville. Zachary’s Beardon caught a SHS fumble in the air and returned it 30 yards for TD.
Beardon’s play was the best that either defense offered in the opening half. The second quarter looked like a super-charged video game as the teams traded big plays and combined for 48 points.
Lewis completed 5 of 7 passes for 193 and 3 TDs. Chris Johnson had TD catches of 56 and 68 yards from Lewis for the Hornets. Scott ran for 87 yards on 11 carries and had TD runs of 41 and 34 yards. He also completed 12 of 16 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown.
The final salvo was a special teams TD. Coleman caught a 77-yard TD pass from Scott that gave Zachary a 27-26 lead with 1:31 left in the half. Scotlandville’s Kelvin Joseph returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards a TD seconds later. Lewis’ PAT pass to Charles gave the Hornets a 34-27 halftime lead.
“I played in a game like this in youth league but never in high school,” Scotlandville’s Lewis said. “Only I won that one. This was something else. Hopefully, we’ll get to play them (Zachary) again (in the playoffs).”