Zachary rediscovered one of the lessons of football on Friday night, namely there is little margin for error against a good team.
The Broncos definitely ran into a good team in last year’s state finalist C.E. Byrd, and although they fought the Yellow Jackets down to the final drive, they made just enough mistakes to make themselves play from behind, and Byrd pulled out a 24-21 win.
“They played in the Superdome (last season) for a reason,” Zachary coach David Brewerton said. “They’re a good football team. I thought my kids played hard, right down through the fourth quarter, and that’s what I asked them to do.
“The biggest thing I want them to do is play hard for four quarters, which they did, and play physical football, which they did. I don’t like moral victories, but I’m proud for what we did.”
Junior quarterback Lindsey Scott and junior wide receiver Douglas Coleman were the Broncos’ catalysts. Scott rushed for 90 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries despite being under heavy pressure most of the night from the Byrd defense.
Coleman had seven catches for 82 yards and also electrified the crowd with a dazzling 99-yard kickoff return on the final play of the first half.
Coleman’s long return breathed some life into the Broncos, who had moved the ball against Byrd in the first half but hurt themselves on an errant snap that ended one drive, a costly holding penalty that stymied another and two lost fumbles.
“Those are things we’ll work on,” Brewerton said. “We’ll definitely use this game as a learning experience.”
Terry Sullivan had the Broncos’ other touchdown on a 23-yard screen pass from Scott. He finished with 37 yards rushing and two receptions for 36 yards.
The Yellow Jackets went ahead 17-0 on a 24-yard Jake Wyss field goal, a 37-yard run on a fake punt by Tysen Hardman and a two-yard run by Tyler Allen.
They went ahead 24-7 with 5:02 left in the third quarter on a 4-yard run by Dominic Haggerty. Haggerty showed why he is one of the most highly regarded running backs in the state, picking up 164 yards on 24 carries.
One of his most impressive plays came after Scott had led the Broncos on a scoring drive and sneaked in from a yard out to close the gap to 24-21 with 3:10 left in the game. The Yellow Jackets faced a third-down situation with 1:06 left when Haggerty barely escaped a shoestring tackle in the backfield, stumbled for 5 yards to regain his balance and turned a potential loss into a 15-yard gain, after which Byrd ran out the clock.
“They (Zachary) played rugged defense,” Byrd coach Mike Sugg said. “It’s unusual for us to get into the red zone and not score. We had two more chances to get it in and just couldn’t put it away.
“We had too many bugs, too many missed assignments, but they’re a talented football team.”