Southeast High School head football coach Rashad West had to be feeling pretty good early in the Class 5A-Region 3, first-round playoff game against Dunbar on Friday.
But the situation turned in a hurry. The Seminoles allowed two kickoff returns for touchdowns 30 seconds apart, failed to score twice from inside the 1, and commited costly penalties and mistakes that allowed the game to slip through their fingers.
Lajuan Preston rushed for 102 yards and Shocky Jacques-Louis scored twice in a frenetic second quarter as Dunbar came back from an 18-point deficit to earn a 33-24 victory. Dunbar advances to play Immokalee.
For West, it was a feeling of what could have been.
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“They made some plays, and we couldn’t finish drives. You can’t give up two special teams touchdowns,” West said. “I would like to think we could punch it in from the one, but we didn’t.
Dunbar’s Jeremiah Blanks caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Tariq Thomas to give the Tigers the lead for good late in the third quarter.
Southeast had chances, but shot themselves in the foot with a costly personal foul that kept the defense on the field late, then a muffed punt that Dunbar’s Kam Lewis returned for a touchdown iced the game late in the fourth.
For West, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
“I feel bad for these seniors. Those kids won’t play anymore. That’s what I’m worried about,” West said.
Southeast (4-6) jumped out on the road, aided by three early Tigers turnovers. Teriq Houston started the scoring with a 70-yard fumble return to make it 7-0. Following a Jumio Martinez field goal, quarterback Alex Taylor found Tyler Stephenson on a 23-yard pass play to make it 17-0.
That play started a frenetic span during which both teams scored twice within 50 seconds.
Seneca Millidge returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to get Dunbar (9-2) on the board at 17-6. After Terrence Pryor grabbed a 42-yard touchdown pass to give the Seminoles another 18-point lead, Jacques-Louis returned the kickoff 70 yards to make it 24-14 after the two-point conversion. He added another score toward the end of the half to make it 24-20.
Southwest drove to start the second half, reaching the 1. However, Taylor couldn’t sneak it in and Dunbar held. After an exchange of punts, Thomas found Blanks for the game-winning score.
Qion Burch rushed for 62 yards on 13 carries, while Taylor was 11 for 23 for 131 yards to lead the Seminoles.