When the final seconds ticked off, the East Jefferson Warriors sprinted off the field, unable to contain themselves after beating Helen Cox 27-7 for their first win in District 8-5A on Saturday night at Hoss Memtsas Stadium.
“It feels great,” Warriors coach Marc Martin said. “Whenever you get your first win, especially our first year in this district. … It comes at a good time for us. Last week (28-21 loss to Higgins), we were tied near the end and didn’t get it done.”
East Jefferson (2-5, 1-3) held Cox in check the entire game, with the Cougars’ only score coming on a long scramble in the second quarter. Cox failed to establish any offensive rhythm, getting just six first downs.
“The defense came up with some great stops, we were able to control the football on them, and the (touchdown) catch by (Malcolm) Robinson in the end zone gave us the lead before halftime,” Martin said. “After that, the kids started believing.”
It was the Cougars (3-4, 1-3), however, who appeared on their way to taking control. Cox led 7-6 at the 5:26 mark of the second quarter when defensive tackle Arlington Jamison burst threw the line and hit East Jefferson quarterback Gerard Walker. Jamison, 5-foot-10, 300 pounds, then took the ball and rambled his way to a 77-yard touchdown.
However, Cougars senior defensive back Renard Leo, 20 yards behind the play, blocked Walker, and a personal foul was assessed against Cox. That wiped away the touchdown and put the Cougars on their 23.
Four plays later, East Jefferson got the ball at its 27 after a punt. Walker then ended a 10-play drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Robinson with 21 seconds left. Delren Davis swept right end for the two-point conversion, and the Warriors led 14-7 at halftime.
“The penalty on the fumble recovery completely changed the whole momentum of the game,” Cox coach Willie Brooks said. “(The block) was 30 yards behind the play. It was just unnecessary. Defensively, I thought we had the game in hand.”
East Jeff made the clinching drive on its first possession of the third quarter. After a punt, the Warriors took over at their 47. On the second play, Walker kept the ball for a 43-yard gain to the Cox 12. Four plays later, he sneaked in from the 1, pushing the lead to 20-7 with 6:26 left in the quarter.
East Jefferson drove 43 yards for its final score, an 11-yard run by Davis with 1:39 left.
“We preached small victories all this week,” Martin said. “Don’t worry about the season; just clean up some of the mistakes that have been killing us. Our young men are growing up.”
The teams’ first scores came on big plays. East Jeff took a 6-0 lead on a 60-yard halfback pass from Desmond Lastie to Davis at the 8:44 mark of the second quarter.
Cox took the lead, however, on the next series. Quarterback Rejean Wright scrambled to the left sideline, eluded two defenders while somehow staying in bounds and scored on a 77-yard run. Dwight Dorsey’s extra point gave the Cougars a one-point lead.