The second-ranked Trojans trailed Milton 23-6 with 8:37 left in the second quarter, but they went on to outscore the Eagles 41-7 the rest of the way, en route to a 47-30 Region 5AAAAAA victory Friday at the Eagles Nest.
Eddie Printz completed 25 of 37 passes for 420 yards and four touchdowns as Lassiter (7-0, 4-0) took over sole possession of first place in the region standings.
Willie Police had 13 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns, and he also rushed five times for 15 yards and a score. Ryan Jenkins, a transfer from Milton, caught four passes for 82 yards and a touchdown, and Lane Jackman rushed for two scores and caught a 9-yard touchdown pass.
“Just a tremendous team victory,” Lassiter coach Jep Irwin said. “It was an unbelievable second-half effort. Our guys are very mature. We’ve been in a lot of big games. I could tell at the half that nobody panicked and nobody had their head down. They just came out and played their tails off.”
Lassiter’s first possession of the game resulted in a safety for Milton after a fourth-down snap sailed over the head of punter Luke Hardin. Hardin then kicked the ball through the back of the end zone to prevent Milton (5-2, 3-1) from recovering the ball for a touchdown.
The Eagles used that momentum and scored on their first three possessions to stake the 23-6 lead. Peyton Barber, who had 22 carries for 113 yards and three touchdowns, rushed in from 7 yards out for a 9-0 advantage.
Lassiter’s Blake Wilson, who finished with three receptions for 53 yards, helped the Trojans answer behind catches of 25 and 26 yards to set up Jackman with a 33-yard touchdown run.
Two facemask penalties against Lassiter assisted Barber who capped a 14-play, 80-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown plunge on the Eagles’ ensuing possession.
Lassiter’s failed fake punt on fourth-and-6 gave the Eagles the ball at the Trojans’ 46. Seven plays later, Barber had his third rushing touchdown on a 21-yard scamper — after jumping over the line of scrimmage and breaking three tackles on the way to the end zone.
The damage could have been worse for Lassiter, which fumbled on its next possession, but the Trojans’ defense held to force Milton into a 44-yard field goal attempt that fell short with 6:34 left in the second quarter.
“We were really under the gun the whole night because they’re just so big and physical,” Irwin said. “If we could get one play or series and get them in long yardage, we had a chance to stop them. The red-zone stop was huge because they had pushed us around the first half.”
One possession later, Lassiter’s C.J. Amann recovered a Milton fumble, and Juwan Dickey grabbed a 47-yard reception to set up Police for a 2-yard score to trim the margin to 23-13 with a minute left in the first half.
Dickey, however, aggravated a left knee injury on the reception and did not return to the game.
That’s when Police stepped up to aid the comeback effort.
“We came out slow in the first half,” he said. “My coach came in to the locker room and said someone has to make a play. I went to my quarterback and asked him to give me a chance. They all just believed in me, and I did what I had to do.”
Lassiter’s defense pressured Milton quarterback A.J. Bush into an interception on the Eagles’ first second-half drive. Chris Murphy caught the errant pass and Jackman capitalized with a 33-yard touchdown run down the left side to bring the score to 23-20 with 9:40 in the third.
Barber’s 29-yard run set up Treyvon Paulk’s 52-yard rushing touchdown for a 30-20 margin.
But Lassiter outscored Milton 28-0 the rest of the way — including 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter — to run away for victory.
Printz connected with Jenkins for a 66-yard touchdown and found Police for touchdown receptions of 41 and 10 yards. Lastly, he completed the 9-yard toss to Jackman for the final score.
Printz was under pressure for much of the second half. He scrambled out of most of it and still found receivers downfield for big gains, likely deflating the morale of the Milton defense.
Police’s 41-yard touchdown reception came off one of those scrambles, as he weaved across the field off a screen pass and found the end zone.
“Me and Eddie have been working together for a while,” Police said. “When he’s scrambling, he knows I’m going to be there for him. He just came through with it.”
“Willie Police really stepped up,” the coach said. “He made a lot of big plays. Ryan Jenkins made a huge play to really get us going in the second half on that hitch-and-out that he broke for a touchdown. Everybody made plays.
“Eddie Printz played one of the best games he’s played in three years. He took care of the football. He was poised. He had some pressure, but he made a lot of really big throws after moving in the pocket.”
Now, Lassiter is left to focus on the three remaining games of its regular season.
“We’re the only undefeated team in the region, so, if we take care of business, we should be region champs,” Irwin said. “Winning on the road against a team as good (Milton) is huge. Now, we need to defend home field. This game allows us to be in control.”