Lee Academy came within one minute of snapping its two game losing streak in the final regular season game at Marshall Academy in Holly Springs Friday.
Instead, the Patriots scored and made the 2-point conversion with 54 seconds remaining to defeat the Colts 27-20.
“We just struggled to get going offensively early in the game,” said Lee coach Rick Johnston. “We’ve got to get away from the negative plays. We’re constantly behind the chains. We get a break, get some momentum and we’d have the ball first and 10 and we’d have a negative play of six, negative play of 10 and now you’re chasing. We’ve got to make better decisions and, overall, just clean it up.”
Lee (4-5, 1-1) ended the regular season on a three-game losing streak, but finished as the No. 10 seed in Class 4A. The Colts will travel to No. 7 Brookhaven Academy at 7 p.m. Friday for the first round of the Class 4A MAIS football playoffs.
In the loss to Marshall Academy, Colts senior Russell Cook threw an interception returned 73 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. That gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead.
Senior Luke Crumpton threw a touchdown pass to senior Gaines Barksdale with 7:29 remaining in the third quarter to cut Marshall Academy’s lead to 13-7. Senior Michael Basha connected on the PAT.
Marshall Academy extended its lead to 19-7 with 5:03 remaining in the third quarter.
Cook answered with a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:03 to play in the third quarter. The PAT was blocked, so Marshall Academy’s lead was 19-13.
Cook scored his second touchdown on a 2-yard run with 4:25 remaining in the game and Basha’s PAT gave Lee a 20-19 lead. However, Marshall Academy scored late to win.
Lee did recover two fumbles with one coming from sophomore Watkins Fyfe on a blocked punt and the other on a senior Chris Butler sack.
Johnston talked about the importance of regrouping for the playoffs. The winner between Lee and Brookhaven Academy travels to North Delta School Nov. 6.
“You’re in a single-elimination tournament now,” he said. “We had a real good practice yesterday. We have to travel to Brookhaven. If we’re fortunate enough to get them, then we get a return date with North Delta.”
Lee lost at 35-14 at North Delta Oct. 16, but three of the Green Waves’ touchdowns came in the very early part of the third quarter.
“That’s kind of the way it’s been all season long,” Johnston said. “We’ve just got to eliminate those negative plays and take better care of the football. They scored on a pick-6, a blocked punt and a botched play. We had them stopped on fourth down, they fumbled the ball and the quarterback picks it up and scores. That’s just a fluke thing. We’ve just got to hang in there and keep fighting. Maybe some of those things will bounce our way.”
Johnston hopes Lee can force Brookhaven Academy to throw the football on Friday.
“They’re a very talented football team,” he said. “Their quarterback’s a really good player it looks like on film. They can both run and pass. Hopefully, we’re able to make them throw the football. Maybe they’ll throw a couple to us.”