Warren Easton found itself in a hole in Friday night’s game against Landry-Walker at Behrman Stadium.
However, a staunch Eagles defense turned back Landry-Walker several times in a 14-12 victory over their former District 9-4A rival.
“Our defense played well, and (free safety) Damien (Tate) really made some big plays,” said Easton coach Jerry Phillips. “But we have a lot of things to clean up. We have Curtis in two weeks, after the bye.”
The Eagles will go into that game with a 3-0 record. Landry-Walker, the defending Class 5A champion, is 0-3 as it is still trying to find its footing.
Landry-Walker senior Ja’Quan Dorsey, expected to start this season at quarterback, did not play. Landry-Walker coach Emanuel Powell went with senior Tory Cargo and Corione Harris, a standout defensive back. It was Harris’ first start. Neither of the three started a game before this season.
“We got in the red zone a couple of times but we couldn’t punch it in,” said Powell, whose Charging Buccaneers play their District 8-5A opener next week against East Jefferson.
Landry-Walker’s biggest missed opportunity in the game came with 2:52 remaining in the third quarter when Chad Alexander broke for a 53-yard run to the Easton 18. However, a holding penalty brought the ball back to the 31, and Easton took over on downs after a pass to Kansas commit Devonta’ Jason, who was double-covered, was knocked away.
Easton stormed back to lead 14-12 at halftime. The Eagles trailed 12-0 with seven minutes left in the second quarter when Damien Tate caught screen passes on consecutive plays for 18 and 34 yards, putting Easton at the Buccaneers’ 11. Four plays later, Larry Barabino scored on a 1-yard run, and Jahmal Sam’s extra point brought the Eagles to 12-7.
Three plays after the ensuing kickoff, Tate then made another huge play, cutting in front of a short pass by Cargo and returning the ball 30 yards for a touchdown. Sam’s PAT gave Easton a 14-12 lead at 4:22 in the second.
“On the pass play, I got the screen, and got good blocks by (receiver) Yo’heinz Tyler,” Tate said.
“On the interception, we’d talked all week about after they went to bubble screens, they’d go to slant passes after that. I just jumped in front of it and I was thinking touchdown all the way.”
Playing on its home field, Landry-Walker seemed to be taking charge early. The Bucs took advantage of a 7-yard punt that gave them first down on the Easton 33. Five plays later, Cargo completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jason for a 6-0 lead.
Like Easton, Landry-Walker then received a big boost from its defense. One play after the kickoff, defensive back Tywan Francis picked up a fumble by Easton quarterback Lance Legendre and returned it 12 yards for a 12-0 lead.
However, Easton’s defense began to get Landry-Walker in check. After a 27-yard run, Alexander was held to minus-2 yards on four carries. And the Bucs completed two of five passes for 13 yards as a secondary led by Tate and Sam made it difficult to find open receivers.Meanwhile, Landry-Walker, led by its defensive line, pressured Legendre into 3 of 7 passing for 53 yards and held the Eagles to 36 yards rushing.Landry-Walker finished the game with 154 yards rushing, including 104 by Chad Alexander on 14 carries. However, they completed just six of 18 passes for 52 yards, including one of seven for two yards in the second half.