LEXINGTON – The state quarterfinals are not the point in the season to almost double your turnover total.
Lexington turned the ball over five times to fall in the Class 4A state quarterfinals 42-21 to Memphis East on Friday.
“We fumbled the ball twice at the goal line,” Lexington coach Bryant Hollingsworth said. “If we come in up 21-7 at halftime, we got them on their heels.
“We had more turnovers tonight than we pretty much have had the whole season.”
The first half was sloppy as the teams combined for six turnovers in the first half.
The Mustangs cleaned up their turnovers, while Lexington did not.
Lexington dominated the the first half in yardage, out-gaining Memphis East 213-78 in total yards.
The problem was the Tigers drove into the red zone, and then they fumbled the ball away.
The first Lexington fumble came on the opening kickoff, and Memphis East scored on the first play from scrimmage on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Eric Banks to Teddrick McGhee.
The Tigers drove to the 1-yard line on the next possession, but they fumbled the ball into the end zone before crossing to give Memphis East the ball.
Luckily for Lexington, the Mustangs fumbled right back on the next play, but the Tigers still couldn’t score, despite driving the ball to the 8-yard line.
Lexington’s first half touchdown was set up by a Memphis East fumble on a punt that gave the Tigers the ball at the 7-yard line, and Tylan Johnson scored two plays later to tie the game 7-7.
Lexington drove the ball once more into the red zone late in the first half, but a fumble at the 8-yard line ended its chance of taking a halftime lead.
“We did what we wanted in the first half,” Hollingsworth said. “We just didn’t finish. We would drive and then fumble.
“When we wanted to run the ball, we ran the ball. We just gave them all of the momentum.”
Memphis East didn’t turn the ball over in the second half, and the offense got into a flow. A five-yard run by Devante Turner and 34-yard run by Banks put Memphis East up 21-7 at the end of the third quarter.
“We didn’t really change much at halftime,” Memphis East coach Marcus Wimberly said. “I told our guys that we played terrible, and we were still tied 7-7. We just had to settle in and play Mustang football. We didn’t make the mistakes we made in the first half.”
The Tigers helped on the next two touchdowns with fumbles for touchdowns in the early stages of the fourth quarter. Jabari Bailey returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown, and Turner followed with a 40-yard fumble return for another score and a 35-7 lead.
Memphis East ran for 221 yards in the second half.
“We were missing some blocks in the first half,” Wimberly said. “Maybe we had some guys too hyped for this game, but they got their assignments in the second half and blocked better.”
Michael Odom, 425-9754