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JEH celebrates win with post-game sprints

Everything seemed to be going so great for John Essex High School on Friday night, despite the rain. It was homecoming. Sensational running back James Bryant was splitting through Sunshine defenders like a fading cloud. And in the end, the Hornets won 28-22.

So why, at the end of Friday night’s win, were the John Essex players lined up at the goal line instead of scrubbing the yellow paint off their faces and hugging their dates? Better yet… why were the Hornets running gassers and being reprimanded by the entire coaching staff and even some of the fans?

There are plenty of reasons. For that matter, some coaches might still have the team on the goal line today.

After trading touchdowns with Sunshine in the first quarter, John Essex took a 16-8 lead with 9:04 left in the second. Bryant, who rushed for 302 yards on the night, added the second of his four touchdowns on a three-yard touchdown run.

On the next possession, Sunshine ran three futile plays and bobbled the long snap on a punt attempt, giving the Hornets the ball on the nine yard line. One play later, Bryant scored another touchdown from nine yards out and John Essex seemingly only had to show up to finish the Tigers off.

Neither team moved the ball in the third quarter, and with 9:49 left in the game, Bryant at least tied a state record when he took the ball from his own one-inch line and ran 99.9 yards for a touchdown.

That put the Hornets up 28-8 and halfway into the gym for the homecoming dance. That’s when the John Essex team fell apart.

On the second play after Bryant’s fourth and final score of the night, Sunshine connected on a 72-yard pass that put them right back in the game. Even still, the Hornets had complete control of the game and only needed to run the clock.

Faced with a third down and long, John Essex quarterback Frankie Glass threw a forward screen to a receiver that was dropped. However, the officials &045; who couldn’t keep the yellow hankies in their pockets for more than two plays in a row &045; ruled the pass as a lateral and Sunshine jumped on the erroneously called fumble.

The Tigers struck quick, completing a 20-yard pass to the John Essex 12 yard line. The Hornet defense appeared to step up though, and held Sunshine to three plays that gained no yards.

Then the sky fell out of R. Cook Stadium. On a fourth down play, Sunshine threw a pass over the middle needing the one-yard line to pick up the first. The John Essex defense stopped Sunshine well short of the first-down mark, but a Hornet defender decided to take one last shot at the Sunshine receiver, delivering a crushing shot long after the play had ended.

Every official on the field &045; and what seemed like a few in the stands &045; threw penalty flags against the Hornets. One John Essex player was ejected from the game, and with 5:00 left, Sunshine scored to cut its lead to just 28-22.

The Hornets sat on the ball on their next possession, and with just 25 second left, seemed to have the game wrapped up. Sunshine didn’t think so.

With the ball at their own 43 yard line and no time outs, Sunshine completed a pass down to the John Essex 25 yard line. That’s where the drive ended though, allowing the Hornets to escape with a 6-point homecoming win.

In all, the Hornets were flagged for 135 yards &045; four of those penalties from personal fouls.

So, at the end of the game, when head coach Pierre Goode had his team running gassers, there was a reason.

If it weren’t for Bryant’s second 300-yard game of the season (he ran for 323 yards and five touchdowns two weeks ago), the Hornets (6-1) wouldn’t have escaped a one-win Sunshine team.

If the Hornets aren’t still running gassers next week, they’ll travel to Akron on Friday.