Senior night at Etheredge Stadium wasn’t a thing of beauty, yet the Cougars who played their last game on their hallowed grass were able to gain a win by the slimmest of margins.
Perry Preston’s 3-yard touchdown run with 1:41 remaining lifted La Marque to a 25-24 win over Hempstead, improving the Cougars to 5-4 overall and 3-1 in District 12-3A-I heading into next Friday’s showdown at Hitchcock. The Coogs weren’t able to breathe easy until Kavis Simien’s interception at the La Marque 23 preserved the victory with 7 seconds left.
“I’m proud of the kids,” said Cougars coach Mike Jackson. “I wanted to see these seniors get a win in their last time in front of their home crowd. These young men have been impressive over the past four years and it’s a great way for them leave this stadium.”
Leaving Etheredge with a win looked to a be a dicey proposition at times for the Cougars, who weren’t able to take advantage of five Hempstead (2-6, 1-3) turnovers. When they weren’t failing to cash in on the Bobcats’ mistakes, La Marque spent its time keeping officials busy throwing flags as they committed 10 penalties, including four personal foul calls.
Hempstead took a 24-19 lead when Delarrin Turner-Yell scored his second touchdown of the night on a 12-yard run with 5:14 to go. The Cougars then took advantage of a Bobcats penalty that forced them to kick the ball at their own 25, setting the stage for the scoring drive that Preston (23 carries, 110 yards) capped off with his second score of the night.
La Marque took an early 7-0 lead on Myles Launius’ 2-yard touchdown run on the Cougars’ opening drive of the night before the Bobcats responded with Turner-Yell’s 1-yard touchdown run and ensuing 2-point conversion that held up going into intermission.
Launius’ second score of the evening gave the Coogs a 13-8 lead with 9:30 to go in the third quarter, a lead that was seized by Hempstead when quarterback Ahmad Banks hit Rodney Wallace on a 15-yard scoring strike that put the Bobcats up 16-13 going into the fourth quarter.
The Cougars took the lead again on Preston’s 20-yard touchdown run that saw him spin and dart through the Hempstead defense with 8:31 remaining.
With the win, La Marque is in position for its eighth straight playoff bid, but a win over Hitchcock would assure them of at least a share of the district crown.
“If you need to be pumped up for a game against Hitchcock, you shouldn’t be on the team,” said Jackson, whose team faces the Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.