The second-ranked team in 3A survived on a muggy night at the intersection of Jefferson and St. Clair County, holding on for a 12-6 victory over visiting Lincoln. Despite controlling much of the action in the second half, the Green Wave did not officially salt the win away until the final whistle, when Lincoln’s Chance Byrd completed his final pass near midfield.
“We won,” said Leeds head coach Keith Etheredge. “It wasn’t pretty in some spots.
“They (Lincoln) have a great football team. They have a lot of athletes. We played hard and we didn’t quit.”
The difference in the game turned out to be a pair of field goals by sophomore Morgan Coston. Coston capped a pair of drives with kicks from 19 and 33 yards, padding the lead for the home team. His second kick came with just under 7 minutes remaining in the third quarter, capping a 79-yard drive that melted more than half of the third quarter away to open the second half.
Much of the offensive load for Leeds belonged to junior tailback Tyler Wright, who carried the football 29 times for 126 yards.
“He (Wright) had a bunch of carries,” Etheredge said. “We have some work to do on the offensive line. They (Lincoln) are just so big up front, they kind of manhandled us.”
Etheredge’s squad opened the game with a sudden change on defense, as D’Vante Smith recovered a fumble from Lincoln’s Jamario Howard on the first snap from scrimmage.
“We’ve got a lot of things we need to work on,” said Lincoln head coach Brad Wallace, coaching his first game for the Golden Bears. “We had some adversity to start the game; we were up and down out there tonight, and we need to get on that even keel. We’re good enough to do that.”
Eleven plays after the fumble, sophomore quarterback Tadarryl Marshall found fullback DeAngelo Wheeler for a one-yard touchdown pass, to make it 6-0.
Marshall finished the game 6-of-14 passing, with a touchdown and an interception. A 42-yard completion to junior wideout Jermaine Johnson was the key to a drive late in the first quarter, which ended with a Coston field goal that made it 9-0.
Lincoln’s offense moved the football during the first half, but was unable to translate it into points. A drive inside the Leeds 20-yard line ended when quarterback Chance Byrd fumbled at the Leeds 13-yard line.
“We played a great football team tonight,” Wallace said. “We’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to be a better football team when we take the field next Friday night.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Byrd and the Lincoln offense drove the ball 63 yards in just over 3 minutes, ending when Byrd found Justin Knight for an 11-yard touchdown. Byrd finished 8-of-19 with that touchdown.
With just over two minutes, Lincoln’s Mason McLean attempted the onsides kick, but Leeds’ Tyler Rose left his feet to make the catch. The Green Wave was able to run the clock down 8 seconds before punting it back to the Bears, then made a tackle on Byrd’s final completion to end the game.
Lincoln will travel to face archrival Munford next Friday.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Wallace said. “We have a lot of work to do, but we’re going to get there.”
Leeds will open region play with Trinity Christian at Homer Smiles.
“That game came down to an onsides kick last year,” Etheredge said. “It’s going to be a good football game.”
Contact Will Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.