Helen Cox (1-3) made a miraculous second half comeback, but was unable to make a final-second stop to prevent East Jefferson (2-2) from pulling off a 30-27 win in a nondistrict game at Hoss Memtsas Stadium on Saturday night.
When East Jefferson quarterback Tracey Bright threw a late-game interception to Cougars defensive back Imiri Porche, it seemed like Cox may have put the bow on an unexpected second-half comeback against the team that defeated them 76-0 in 2013.
But, Bright got the ball back and marched his offense down 69 yards in eight plays before running back Morris Sarah punched in a 1-yard, game-winning touchdown with 17 seconds left on the clock.
“I was kind of mad because we had a little difficulty getting the play calls in,” Bright said. “But my coaches and teammates kept telling me to calm down and focus. I believe we are the best conditioned team around, so I knew if we kept pushing them that we could eventually get to them.”
Bright finished with 18 carries for 209 yards and a touchdown and Sarah added 51 yards and three touchdowns of his own.
“I just told my guys that we would have to play the entire 48 minutes,” East Jefferson coach Marc Martin said. “I’m really proud of the way our guys played and getting a win like this is going to be so important for us going forward.”
Cox had trouble scoring in the first half, but Ray — a UL-Lafayette commitment — began to make big plays seemingly every time the Cougars needed it in the second half. Cox converted their first four possessions of the second half into touchdowns, including drives of 84, 69, and 74 yards, before the Cougars took advantage of a short field and Allan Thompson scampered in from 35 yards out to give Cox a 27-24 lead its first of the game.
Ray finished 16-of-24 for 357 yards with nine carries for 34 yards and three total touchdowns. Wide reciever Ja’Coby Riley also had a big night with eight touches for 158 yards.
“I think we didn’t show up to play offensively in the first half, but our defense forced a few turnovers to keep us in the game,” Ray said. “Unfortunately, we just couldn’t make the plays at the end of the game to win it.”
After an eight-play, 33-yard drive ended with a 29-yard field goal by Jose Espinoza, the ensuing kickoff was fumbled by Cox running back Jormaine Coleman and recovered by East Jefferson.
Six plays later, Sarah ran up the middle 5 yards for his second touchdown to give the Warriors a 16-0 lead with four minutes left in the first half.
East Jefferson lost fumbles on their first two possessions of the game, but the Cougars were unable to take advantage of either opportunity — including getting stuffed on four straight plays inside the East Jefferson 3-yard line after a 58-yard run by Riley.
After forcing a turnover on downs by Cox, the Warriors took 12 plays to march 97 yards before Sarah dove in from 1 yard out to give East Jefferson its first points of the night.
After missing the extra point, the Warriors led 6-0 late in the first quarter.
East Jefferson squares off with Jesuit at Joe Yenni Stadium on Saturday. Helen Cox returns to Hoss Memtsas for a game against Edna Karr on Saturday.