GIBSONTON — East Bay coach Frank LaRosa said he warned his players at halftime, trailing Durant by a touchdown, not to become complacent, to take advantage of plays, that like almost all the Indians’ wins this season he wouldn’t be surprised if this one came down to single digits.
“I was getting on them about urgency and finding a couple of plays to make,” LaRosa said. “We don’t win games by more than nine and I told them, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if we won this game 10-7.’ ”
Then he added: “I’m like a tiny Nostradamus, I guess.”
And as he called in the locker room at half, the Indians’ defense stepped up and led the way as East Bay (7-3, 3-1 Class 7A-District 8) did all the scoring, topping Durant 10-7, and earned a spot in a Monday tiebreaker for a postseason spot against Strawberry Crest and Plant City (both also 3-1 in 7A-8).
The Cougars struck first just before the end of the opening quarter as Erick Davis lined up at quarterback and tossed a 12-yard touchdown to Joe Williamson. But neither team made the most of their first-half chances as the Cougars finished with 46 yards and East Bay with 72.
The second half was all Indians as the defense came up with a number of big stops. The Cougars looked likely to add to the lead in their first possession of the third, but saw that chance and the 34- yard field goal attempt swatted down by Christian Angulo.
East Bay responded to the kick block by putting together its best drive of the game, going 74 yards, capped by a Chris Greene 26-yard touchdown. On the scoring play, Greene was met at the line and spun around, but never hit the ground, landing on a player, righting himself and going up the middle for the score.
“I wasn’t even supposed to get the ball, it was supposed to be a (quarterback) keeper,” Greene said. “I just felt like it was my time and when I fell on (the player) I just got back up and finished.”
A penalty on the Indians pushed the extra-point attempt back and East Bay failed on a 2-point conversion, still trailing the Cougars heading into the fourth.
The Indians’ defense was undeterred as East Bay forced a punt and then took the lead as the punt snap was delivered over the punter’s head and then kicked out of the back of the end zone.
The stifling defense had all it needed as the Indians had six sacks in the game, including 31⁄2 from senior Kameron Daniels, including a safety in the final minute to wrap up the win. Junior Eric Latortue had 11⁄2 sacks and Marques Ford added one.
“I just wanted to play my heart out for the rest of these boys,” Daniels said. “We deserved a chance at the playoffs and I wanted to make sure I did my part so we have our shot.”
Durant 7 0 0 0 — 7
East Bay 0 0 6 4 — 10
D – Williamson 12 pass from Davis (Wells kick)
E – Greene 26 run (pass failed)
E – Safety
E – Safety