It took running back Masen Mitchell’s school-record sixth touchdown to finally secure Chalmette’s victory against West Jefferson on Friday night at Bobby Nuss Stadium.
When the final seconds ticked off, the Owls had taken a wild 56-42 win that, coupled with Landry-Walker’s win against Ehret, gave them sole possession of first place in District 8-5A.
It’s the first time Chalmette (4-2, 3-0) has been in this position since 2004, according to longtime team statistician Jim Bickford, when it was in Class 3A. However, as far as the state’s highest classification, it’s the first time since 1978, when the Owls were in the Catholic League, before losing to St. Augustine in the final regular-season game.
“It feels great to be in first place,” Chalmette coach Jason Tucker said. “Offensively, we did a great job executing, and Masen did a great job. But I think the key was our special teams. We were 3-for-3 covering kickoffs.”
Mitchell gained 195 yards on 38 carries, and Kerry Johnson rushed for 170 yards on just seven carries, including an 83-yard tuchdown run. However, in a most impressive performance, West Jefferson’s David Carter rushed for 272 yards and four touchdowns and also scored on an 87-yard kickoff return that got the Buccaneers (3-3, 2-1) jump-started and set the tone for the game.
“I feel great about the performance, but we didn’t get the win,” he said. “We still have a few things to correct offensively and defensively. But it was a great experience for us. We’re a young team.”
In the end, however, Chalmette’s defense had one stand that helped the Owls get the win. With seven minutes left and West Jefferson facing fourth-and-5 at the Chalmette 49, the Owls put nine defenders near the line of scrimmage and tackled Carter for a 2-yard loss.
The Owls then drove 53 yards to Mitchell’s clinching touchdown with 2:17 left. Forced to pass, Bucs quarterback Coley Ransaw was sacked twice on the last possession, sealing the Owls’ win.
“We couldn’t stop them,” Bucs coach Cyril Crutchfield said. “You have to be able to run and stop the run. We couldn’t stop them from running.”
Johnson’s long run broke a 28-28 tie midway of the third quarter. The Owls then covered pooch kicks on consecutive kickoffs, leading to a 49-34 lead with 11:19 left in the game.
Chalmette began as though it would turn the homecoming game into a route, taking a 14-0 lead by 2:55 of the first quarter. Mitchell capped the 54-yard first possession with a 6-yard touchdown run, and ended Chalmette’s second drive of 60 yards with a 1-yard scoring run.
However, Carter returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, energizing the Buccaneers, who trailed just 21-20 at halftime.
Johnson’s 42-yard run keyed a 71-yard drive that ended with Jason Roper’s 1-yard sneak for a 21-14 lead with 2:55 left before halftime.
The Owls’ Mikael Blaise’s 38-yard punt then pinned West Jeff at its 9 with 1:13 left. However, the Bucs went 91 yards in 1:01, with Ranson completing passes of 19 and 31 yards and an unneccessary roughness penalty putting the ball at the Chalmette 13.
Carter ran off right guard on the next play for the touchdown. However, an offsides penalty preceded Jose Talavera’s missed extra point.