But Obie Brannon’s extra-point skimmed just under the crossbar, and Lassiter escaped with a 42-41 victory Friday in the teams’ Region 5AAAAAA opener at Frank Fillmann Stadium.
“We hung in there and got the win,” Lassiter coach Jep Irwin said. “We’re 1-0 in the region and that was the main thing we needed to accomplish. It wasn’t always pretty, and give (Cherokee coach Josh) Shaw and that team credit for a lot of that, but we’ll take it and we’re glad to be 1-0 in the region.”
The missed point-after came after a 5-yard delay of game penalty — a mistake Shaw put on his shoulders as he second-guessed himself on going for a potential game-winning 2-point conversion with momentum heavily on the Warriors’ sideline.
“I had myself convinced to go for two, and that is on me,” Shaw said. “We had nothing to lose and should have gone for two. That was completely my fault. But I am so proud of my kids, regardless.
“We went into halftime down 35-14 and talked about not giving up. That’s exactly what we did. Our kids persevered and laid it all on the line.”
Cherokee (2-2, 0-1) struck first when quarterback Spencer Ashley found a wide-open Blake Johnston for an 82-yard score that gave the Warriors a 7-0 lead with 6:34 to play in the opening quarter.
The high-powered Trojan offense responded with five unanswered touchdowns, including four in a highlight-filled second quarter.
Oris Lawhorn tied the game at 7-all, running three yards around right end late in the second quarter. The Trojans (2-2) took a 14-7 lead on the opening play of the second quarter when Will Anderson found Quincy Perdue deep down the left sideline.
The senior receiver, who finished the night with 112 yards from the air, made a leaping catch at the 20-yard line, broke a tackle at the 15 and juked one last defender at the 10 before crossing the goal line with 14:45 to play in the second quarter.
Anderson hooked up with Cole Taylor for a 57-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 21-7, Perdue scored from 21 yards out on a reverse to give the Trojans a 28-7 lead, and Anderson hit a wide-open Duby Nwalubi for a 43-yard touchdown pass to cap the Trojans’ 28-point second quarter.
Ashley, who was 22-of-32 for four touchdowns and 455 yards, threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Blace Brown in the waning seconds of the second quarter. Brannon hit the extra point for Cherokee to send the game into halftime 35-14.
Cherokee scored in the third quarter on a 67-yard screen pass from Ashley to Brittain Brown, then again on a 2-yard run by Johnston that cut Lassiter’s advantage to 35-28.
The Trojans extended their lead to 42-28 on a 1-yard plunge by Corey John, before Ashley hit Andrew Harris in the end zone from 16 yards out with 4:36 to play, then again from 13 yards out with 42 seconds left.
Blace Brown led all receivers with 12 catches for 175 yards. Johnston ran for 78 yards on 20 carries and had 90 yards receiving on two receptions.
Anderson led the Lassiter offense to 476 total yards of their own, completing 27 of 40 passes for 346 yards and three touchdown passes.