Costly mistakes spell defeat for EA in jamboree
Friday night was like déjà vu all over again for East Ascension.
Their 7-6 home jamboree loss to former district rival Woodlawn was eerily similar to the string of defeats they suffered through during their 0-6 start to the 2016 season.
Two big special teams miscues put them behind, and with time running low in the game, two costly defensive penalties allowed Woodlawn to run out the clock without East Ascension's offense having a chance to score.
"I was very frustrated because this is the dress rehearsal," Spartan head coach Darnell Lee said. "We self-destructed on that last drive. We have to clean our game up. If we don't get behind, we don't have to worry about that. If we make the tackles when we have the chance, we don't have to worry about that."
East Ascension fell behind right from the start.
On their opening possession, they were forced into a quick three-and-out. On the ensuing punt, punter Ryan Gremillion dropped the snap and was tackled before he could get off a kick.
This gave Woodlawn the ball at the Spartan 1-yard line. Just three plays later, the Panthers scored a touchdown to go up 7-0 less than four minutes into the game.
East Ascension responded well as they got the ball and drove 68 yards in nine plays.
The drive ended with a touchdown as quarterback Jason Wakefield sent a swing pass to Shemar Thompson, and he did the rest. Thompson hugged the sideline and weaved through defenders to score from 36 yards out, but the ensuing extra point was blocked.
The Spartans trailed, 7-6, at the break.
In the second half, both defenses took over. Until Woodlawn's final offensive drive, neither team produced a single first down in the quarter.
Still ahead by a point, the Panthers took over at their own 23-yard line with just under five minutes remaining in the game.
East Ascension looked to have held them to a three-and-out, but a roughing the passer call awarded them a new set of downs.
Later, on third and long, Woodlawn's drive was kept alive by a pass interference call.
The Spartans' final opportunity to get the ball back came when they held the Panthers to third and 15, but Woodlawn was able to convert it with a 20-yard run on a draw.
With the first down, the Panthers were able to bleed the clock and collect the victory.
East Ascension lost despite holding Woodlawn to just 41 total yards and four first downs. Three of those first downs came as a result of Spartan penalties.
To go with the loss, East Ascension came away from the game a little dinged up.
"Our starting quarterback was out there playing with stitches in his knee. Hopefully, he'll be ready next week," Lee said. "We finished the game with third and fourth-stringers out there, but all these guys have to be ready to step up--regardless of where they are on the depth chart. You never know when your number is going to get called."
Coach Lee was upset with the silly mistakes, but he thinks they can correct them by Friday.
"We can't turn the ball over like that, and 0-6 is a reminder of that," Lee said. "I think we'll be fine. We'll get everybody healthy, and we'll come back next week ready to roll against the defending state champs."
For week one, East Ascension will be on the road against two-time defending 3A champion Lutcher. The Bulldogs have lost just three games in the last two seasons.
"It's just like any other game. You have to play assignment football when you're playing a team of that caliber," Lee said. "If you want to be a champ, you have to play like a champ every week. You have to play assignment football with no turnovers, and you can't miss tackles."