Corey Lambert and the defending champs of District 8-5A had their backs against the wall and were on the verge of taking a disappointing loss in the first game of their defense of their district title.
Lambert, a former John Ehret quarterback during his high school days, knew who needed to turn to during this dire moment.
“To be the quarterback at Ehret — I played it — you have to put the team on your back,” the Ehret coach said. “We expect that ... that’s why he’s our quarterback.”
Ehret quarterback Caron Baham did just that, scoring a go-ahead, 4-yard touchdown with 42 seconds left to give the Patriots (5-1, 1-0) a 13-10 victory over Chalmette (1-5, 0-1) at Hoss Memtsas Stadium on Saturday night.
Baham finished with 26 carries for 164 yards and a touchdown, while also going 8-of-19 for 46 passing yards. Tulane commitment Taris Shenall also added an interception and had three touches for 25 yards and a touchdown.
“That last drive was very important for me because I needed to put the team on my back,” Baham said. “Coach stressed all week that we needed this win, and I’m happy to get it for us.”
After an interception by Ehret defensive back Jarius Wallace, Baham scampered for a much-needed 59 yards and added a 15-yard facemask to give his team a chance to score in the final minute of the game. Three plays later, he bulled his way into the end zone for the game-deciding touchdown.
Following a Shenall interception on the final play of the third quarter, the Patriots went three-and-out and punted the ball away to Chalmette. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Owls running back Masen Mitchell shook one Patriots defender and stiff-armed another on the way to a 40-yard touchdown. After the extra point, the Owls led 10-7.
Mitchell finished with 15 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown.
“We came in expecting to win, and anytime you lose when you’re expecting to win it hurts,” Chalmette coach Jason Tucker said. “We knew the talent level would be close and we knew the game would be close. They just made a few more plays than we did.”
After Chalmette lost a fumble on the opening possession of the second half, Ehret got a runs of 24 yards by Baham and 9 yards by running back Byron James before Shenall ran in a touchdown from8 yards out to score their first points of the game and the Patriots led 7-3.
“Our team fought and fought,” Lambert said. “That’s what happens when your team starts to gel.”
Both teams went back and forth in an ugly first half that only involved 189 combined yards by both teams, six punts, two fumbles lost, an interception and two turnovers-on-downs.
The most crucial of those turnovers-on-downs came on Ehret’s final possession of the first half. After converting a fourth-and-1 earlier in the drive, Baham dropped back to pass on a fourth-and-8 and took a long loss on a sack with 1:08 left in the second quarter. In prime position to score before the half, Chalmette only needed to gain 17 yards in five plays to give kicker Juan Esparaza an opportunity to kick a 43-yard field goal and give the Owls their first points of the game.
The kick sailed through the uprights as the half ended, giving Chalmette a 3-0 lead at the end of the first half.