It was a stunner for one side of the field and a heart-breaker for the other side. Lejeune scored the go-ahead touchdown on fourth down with 8.3 seconds left in the game Friday to give Lakewood its first loss of the season, 19-22.
The Leopards had their hands full all night, trying to keep the Jacksonville team reined in, and did a good job, but ran out of time before they could answer back from that final touchdown play.
To begin the game, the Devil Pups made it into the end zone first with two touchdown runs before the end of the first quarter. Jamaz Richardson raced in from 48 yards out on the first one and then he powered down the side from 89 yards out on the second one.
The point after kicks were no good. This put Lejeune up 0-12 at the start of the second quarter.
A Lakewood pass by quarterback J.J. Tanner from about 23 yards out to Jabriel Cooper, who was deep in the left corner of the end zone, at the 8:56 mark put the Leopards back in the game.
The score as both teams left the field for haltime was 6-12.
At the start of the 3rd quarter, a fumble by the Devil Pups moved the Leoaprds up to about the 20 yard line and on the very next play, Haywood Mack forced his way into the end zone. The point after went wide left, leaving the score tied at 12-all.
As the third quarter came to a close, Lejeune marched down field on three 1st downs to get within about 10 yards of the end zone, but the Leopards held tight and the Devil Pups had to settle for a field goal to move ahead 12-15 with 11:57 left in the game.
Lakewood wasn’t able to convert after the kickoff and Lejeune got the ball back on about the 35 yard line.
On the next play, red and black jerseys clashed in the middle of the field and suddenly black and gold #72 came rumbling out of the pile and raced toward the Lakewood end zone.
Tyrek Rich got the take-away and ran 67 yards for the touch down that gave the Leoaprds the lead with 9:23 left in the game. Wesley Sessoms kicked the point after to make the score 19-15.
The Devil Pups kept the ball 5 minutes before Leopard Stephen King sacked their quarterback to give Lakewood the ball.
The Leopards were forced to punt with just a little over a minute left on the clock. The snap went high and punter Griffin Faircloth managed to fall on the ball at about the 25 yard line, giving the Devil Pups excellent field position with about a minute to go.
The Leopard line did a good job holding Lejeune back, but there was nothing they could do for the trick play.
It was a hand-off to Richardson, who then ran to the side and passed into the end zone for what turned into the game-winning catch that stunned the crowd with 8.3 seconds left on the clock.
The final score was 19-22.
Leading rushers for the Leoaprds were Mack with 22 carries for 105 yards; Tyrek Rich, 1-67; Roman Leach, 5-9; and Shyheim Rich, 4-28.
For Lejeune High School, Richardson had 24 carries for 209 yards; Brady Bodine, 8-44; and Stephen DiCenso, 10-28.
On defense for the Leopards, Cody Barnett had 12 tackles; Trace Faircloth, 10; Jabriel Cooper, 6 tackles and 1 fumble recovery; Pat Rich and Ray Hayes, 5 tackles each; Stephen King, 5 tackles and 1 sack resulting in a 10 yard loss; Tyrek Rich, 2 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries.
Lakewood falls to 2-1 overall and the varsity will travel to rival Midway next Friday.
The Leopard JV will host Midway this Thursday evening.
Last week the junior varsity went to South Lenior, shutting out the home team 35-0. Stats were not available for that game, but head Coach Sylvester Pittman said he was happy with the way the team was working together.
“We’re playing good football right now. We’ve just got to get ready for those Rowdy Raiders on Thursday,” he said with a good-natured laugh.