When starting quarterback Caron Baham left Friday’s game against Riverside Academy with a knee injury after the fifth play, Ehret’s defense was there.
The Patriots defense was there at the end to preserve a 29-28 victory at Hoss Memtsas Stadium.
“Our guys in our senior class … have been here since my first year,” said Ehret coach Corey Lambert, whose team has won District 8-5A the past two years. “A senior caught it, a senior got the fumble (at game’s end). Those are the guys we count on.”
Ehret had taken the one-point lead with 3:48 left in the game when running back Juwan Leonard, playing sort of a wildcat quarterback, passed to Jarius Wallace for a 54-yard touchdown. Dustin Bodden’s extra-point provided the winning point.
The Patriots then stopped the Rebels after Riverside got the ball on Ehret’s 49, and again after a poor punt snap gave Riverside the ball with 1:02 left. Defensive end Kerry Starks pressured Riverside quarterback Herb McGee, causing a fumble that was recovered by middle linebacker Dejon Harris, one of the game’s key figures.
All that took place after Riverside, held to 8 yards in the first half, stormed back in the third and fourth quarters with 21 consecutive points to take a 28-22 lead. Jeremy Gibson scored on a 57-yard back screen pass 1½ minutes into the fourth quarter, and McGee passed to Avonti Cannon for the two-point conversion.
Baham, a Missouri commitment, has a bruised knee and is expected to be OK for next week, Lambert said. The Patriots tried freshman Travis Mumphry but Harris played quarterback most of the time, with Leonard and Byron James running the ball.
The defense set the tone with a safety four minutes into the first quarter, then James scored on a 1-yard run a minute later. After Rebels linebacker Evan Veron intercepted Mumphry’s screen pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown to bring the Rebels within 9-7.
However, James capped a 55-yard drive with a 5-yard run at 9:23 of the third quarter, and an improvising Ehret surprised Riverside with a lateral from Mumphrey to Leonard, who completed a 66-yard touchdown pass to Harris wide open behind the secondary for a 22-7 lead they took into halftime.
Rebels coach Billy Stubbs said Riverside didn’t make any changes at halftime to spur their second-half performance.
“We just decided to run the ball with Brandon (Sanders),” he said. “(Ehret) had us on our heels in the first half. They have a good defense.”
Sanders’ running quick-started Riverside. Then, McGee completed a 10-yard out pass to Jeremy Gibson, who cut back for a 45-yard touchdown. On the next possession, Sanders capped a 70-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.