ELKMONT — It was too little to late for Elkmont Thursday night as the Red Devils dropped a preseason game to East Lawrence 26-23 on their home field. The Eagles led 26-0 after three quarters before a furious Elkmont nearly paid off with a win.
It was Elkmont’s inexperienced, younger players that nearly pulled off the dramatic comeback. Entering the game with a chance to show out and earn some playing time, Elkmont’s youngsters did not disappoint.
“We’re just young, no way around it,” said Elkmont head coach Sean Holt. “We’ve got to grow, but the good things is we can get better. It gives me hope that we’ve got some people that can push each other in practice maybe. Everybody is working to get better. We stated earlier this week that we’re hunting 11 players. We don’t care who the 11 are.”
With little to play for but pride, Elkmont finally got on the board mid way through the fourth quarter when a pair of freshman hooked up for an 11-yard touchdown. Quarterback Jordan Nelson rolled out to his right and lobbed a ball to Aaron Moss, who made a juggling catch it the goal line for the score.
After Elkmont’s defense forced its second consecutive three-and-out, running back Mike Tucker marched the Red Devils down the field with several hard runs for first downs. Tucker finished as the team’s leading rusher with seven carries for 72 yards, all in the second half. Holt said he challenged his team at halftime to run the ball better in the second half.
“First half, our kids were a little shell-shocked,” Holt said. “They handed it to us, but we came back out with our starters versus theirs and ran the ball in the third quarter. We purposely said we are going to try and run the ball and we did.”
Elkmont finished the drive with an Alexis Hernandez 27-yard field goal in what seemed like nothing more than a special teams exercise, trailing 26-9 with four minutes remaining in the game.
Three plays later and the game were flipped upside down as Elkmont scored two defensive touchdowns in less than a minute. The first from a Bradley Broadway 60-yard interception return for a touchdown. Broadway caught the ball near the visiting sideline and streaked down the field to pull the Red Devils within two scores.
Two plays later and Josue Ferrazas found the ball at his feet from after an East Lawrence fumble. The junior scooped it up and carried it 26 yards for another Elkmont touchdown with 3:01 remaining in the game.
The Eagles were able to hang onto the ball and the game on the next possession as they ran out the clock. Despite the loss, Holt said his team should learn from the highs and the lows of the preseason game.
“We just have to have some kids that finally realize that they can’t say ‘who’s going to do it other than me?’ They know now that, ‘It’s got to be me and I’ve got to get it done,’” said Holt.
Elkmont committed six turnovers in the game while forcing three of its own. Hayden Renew carried the ball 10 times for 50 yards in the loss.
East Lawrence was led by quarterback Terrance Deloney who carried the ball 15 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Carrington Coffey had six carries for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win.
East Lawrence will open its season at Lawrence County while Elkmont travels to Ardmore. Both games are at 7 p.m. Friday August 31.