Lehigh now finds itself in a familiar spot following a 45-13 victory over rival East Lee County on Friday.
The Lightning got 136 rushing yards and three touchdowns from junior running back Chris Curry and the defense held the Jaguars to 31 yards of offense in the second half to return the Beast of the East rivalry trophy back to their trophy case. With the District 6A-11 win, Lehigh (4-3, 1-1) controls its own destiny in the race for a postseason berth.
For the second straight season coach James Chaney’s squad will have a chance to punch its ticket to the Class 6A playoffs if it can beat Estero. The Lightning failed in that spot last season, losing 21-7.
“We need to focus and prepare the right way,” Chaney said. “We need to learn from out mistakes and take this thing seriously. Estero is a good team.”
First, Lehigh had to get past an upstart East Lee team, which was off to its best start in four seasons. The Jaguars, which opened the game with touchdowns on two of their first three drives, were seeking to lock down their first postseason berth since 2012.
Instead East (3-4, 1-1) gave Lehigh short fields to work with early in the second half with a fumble and a short punt. Curry, who scored on runs of 39, 7 and 36 yards, capitalized with his second rushing touchdown and Marlon Morales booted a 25-yard field goal to build upon a 21-13 halftime lead.
“They really took it to us early in the game,” Chaney said. “We had to make some defensive adjustments. We finished the way we should.:
The best East can hope for is a Lehigh loss next week and a win over district favorite to get into the playoffs.
Lehigh quarterback Delshawn Green rushed for 65 yards and two touchdowns before leaving in the second half with an injury.
East running back Lothario Adderley led the team with 93 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
LEHIGH 45, EAST LEE COUNTY 13
EL 13 0 0 0—13
L 14 7 10 14—45
EL — Lothario Adderley 70 run (Ivan Abad kick), 11:37
L — Chris Curry 39 run (Marlon Morales kick), 6:32
EL — Darien Staco 4 run (kick blocked), 5:44
L — Delshawn Green 11 run (Morales kick), 1:03
L — Green 60 run (Morales kick) 4:38
L — Curry 7 run (Morales kick), 11:27
L — Morales 25 field goal, 2:12
L — Curry 36 run (Morales kick), 11:27
L — Jalane Nelson 7 run (Morales kick), 2:20
Rushing – EL, Lothario Adderley 12-93, Darien Staco 4-26, Cortavius Lee 8-22; L, Chris Curry 21-136, Delshawn Green 3-65, Jalane Nelson 16-35, Quan Martin 1-11, D’Marquise Collins 3-10.
Passing – EL, Lee 3-17-2 21; L, Green 6-11-0 93, Collins 3-10-0 38.
Receiving – EL, Adderley 2-15, Dallas Campbell 1-6; L, Russell Brown 5-65, Collins 3-53, Brandon Newhouse 1-13