John Ehret running back Damond Leonard said he thought he'd carry the ball about 10 times in the Patriots' District 8-5A showdown against Landry-Walker on Friday night at Berhman Stadium.
Leonard all but carried Ehret on his shoulders, gaining 141 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries, and the Patriots fought past the Charging Buccaneers 20-6.
The win was the sixth in a row for Ehret (6-1, 4-0), which beat Landry-Walker (3-4, 3-1), an 8-5A member for four years, for the first time. It put the Patriots, No. 3 in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10 rankings, in sole possession of first place.
“We have a lot of weapons,” said Leonard, 5-foot-9, 175 pounds. “After the first quarter, I knew I'd be getting the ball a lot. My offensive line blocked, and I'm just glad the coaches believed in me. It was a great win for us as a team.”
Landry-Walker stayed on the Patriots' heels all game. Trailing 14-6, the Bucs went for the first down on fourth-and-2 at the Ehret 49 with 8:41 left in the fourth quarter. However, quarterback Tory Cargo's pass to receiver Dywan Griffin, who had caught a 44-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, was dropped.
“It game down to execution when it was needed the most,” Landry-Walker coach Emanuel Powell. “We moved the ball well and got into the red zone a couple of times, but we didn't execute and finish the drives.”
After the drop, Ehret drove 51 yards before Leonard's 2-yard touchdown run with 3:18 remaining. Leonard gained 46 clock-chewing yards on the drive, which lasted 5:26 and took 10 plays.
Landry-Walker hurried to the Ehret 40, but Cargo's pass was intercepted at the 6 by Kaine Williams, sealing the victory.
The Patriots took a 14-6 lead on quarterback Travis Mumphrey's 25-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Pickney on fourth-and-4 with 7:04 of the third quarter.
“(Leonard) gives us balance, which helps to open up the passing game,” first-year Ehret coach Marcus Scott said. “He did well today. Our offense did a good.”
Ehret led 7-6 at halftime, as physical defensive play by both teams dominated play. After a scoreless first quarter, the Patriots blocked a punt to get the ball at the Landry-Walker 26 at 7:16 of the second. One play later, Mumphrey completed a 26-yard post pattern pass to tight end Jacoby Windmon for a 7-0 lead.
The Patriots' defense also was holding the Bucs' offense under wraps, forcing punts on their first three possessions. However, Landry-Walker answered Ehret's touchdown by going 75 yards behind quarterback Ja'Quan Dorsey.
Dorsey started the game but was replaced by Cargo in the Bucs' two-quarterback system. Dorsey returned and rushed for 24 yards on two carries before teaming with Griffin on a 44-yard touchdown play. Griffin broke or spun out of four tackles on the play. The PAT failed, leaving Landry-Walker behind at halftime.
Ehret was thwarted by fumbles. The Patriots reached the Landry-Walker 27 on Mumphrey's 18-yard pass to Pickney at 7:50 of the second, but Pickney fumbled. And, after the Bucs' touchdown, Ehret's Brandon James returned the kickoff to the Landry-Walker 34, where he fumbled.
Landry-Walker then drove to the Ehret 6, where Dorsey fumbled when hit by Ehret linebacker and LSU commitment Donte' Starks with 25.4 seconds left before halftime.