East Jefferson stopped a potential tying 2-point conversion with 1:48 left in the game and held on for a thrilling 21-19 victory over Lakeshore in a District 8-4A game Friday at homecoming at Lakeshore.
David Ducre scored on a 6-yard touchdown run to cap off a 12-play, 87-yard drive that took 5:29 off of the clock, but Ducre was unable to punch in the tying conversion.
Leonard Lebranch recovered the ensuing on-side kick, and the Warriors were able to run out the clock.
“Going into the playoffs, anything can happen” Lebranch said. “Just like last year, we are trying to prove people wrong and play with a chip on our shoulder.”
Lebranch had a fumble return for a touchdown and also blocked a key extra point.
East Jefferson (6-4, 4-1) was led by the duo of Morris Sarah and Trevor Diggs. Sarah rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, and Diggs gained 100 yards on 14 carries.
“I knew this was going to be a close game” East Jefferson head coach Marc Martin said. “They got a heckuva back in Ducre, but our guys stepped it up at the end.”
David Ducre led the Titans with 237 yards rushing on 30 carries.
Lakeshore (4-6, 2-3) will advance to the playoffs but will be on the road. East Jefferson, the defending Class 4A state champions will also be on the road.
The Titans scored on their opening possession of the second half on a 53-yard run by Ducre. Ryan Miller’s extra point was blocked by Lebranch, preserving the Warriors 14-13 lead.
East Jefferson answered with a 30-yard scoring burst by Sarah. Jose Espinoza added his third extra point to increase the lead to 21-13.
“That’s how we have played all year” Titans coach Craig Jones said. “Those early mistakes hurt us, but we were able to fight back from it. The kids played so hard, I feel bad for them. But you have to give EJ credit. They are the defending state champs.”
The Warriors finished the game with 237 yards rushing. The Titans rushed for 295 yards and had 387 yards of total offense.
The Titans marched 74 yards in 13 plays on their opening possession, but Dylan Fields fumbled, and Lebranch scooped it up at the five yard line and raced 95 yards for a touchdown. Espinoza added the extra point to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead with 6:26 left in the first quarter.
On the Titans’ next offensive play, Fields fumbled the snap, and Tahj King recovered for East Jefferson at the Lakeshore 41.
Three plays later, Sarah scored on a 2-yard touchdown plunge. Espinoza’s extra point increased the lead to 14-0 with 4:55 to go in the first quarter.
The Titans responded on their next possession, driving 59 yards in nine plays. Ducre scored on a 12-yard touchdown run, and Miller added the extra point to make the score 14-7 with 39 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Titans outgained the Warriors 111 yards to 48 yards in the first quarter and ran 23 plays to East Jefferson’s 5 but still trailed 14-7 thanks to four fumbles with two lost fumbles.
Both defenses stiffened in the scoreless second quarter.