It didn’t seem that way, given the way the third quarter played out.
Lassiter scored 21 unanswered points and held Sprayberry to 2 yards of offense in the period, en route to a 41-23 victory in the “Backyard Brawl” at Frank Fillmann Stadium.
The Trojans (1-1) turned the ball over twice in the first half and committed six penalties for 50 yards, which helped keep the Yellow Jackets (0-3) in the contest. Although the penalties continued in the second half, Lassiter executed better and didn’t commit any turnovers, leading to more scoring drives.
Defensively, Sprayberry’s first three possessions of the third period resulted in three-and-outs, and Lassiter’s hurry-up spread offense provided big plays on three consecutive drives, resulting in a 35-7 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
The Yellow Jackets picked up their first first down of the second half with 10:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, but a 17-yard intentional grounding penalty eventually stalled the drive.
The change of possession resulted in a three-play, 59-yard scoring drive for Lassiter, capped by Grant Daniels’ 57-yard touchdown run. That put the Trojans ahead 41-7 with 6:30 left, marking 28 unanswered points for Lassiter.
“We played a sloppy first half,” Irwin said. “We had some dropped passes, penalties and fumbles. We didn’t play well. I challenged the kids going into the second half, and I’m happy that the seniors were able to get a win against a rival.
“We didn’t make any real adjustments at halftime. We just killed our drives in that first half. We did the same things in the second half but got some explosive plays that helped out. But there were no scheme changes. We just executed better.”
Quarterback Russell Aarons, in for injured starter Will Anderson, played a huge part in the Trojans’ improved execution. Aarons completed 18 of 26 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed seven times for 60 yards and three scores.
“Russ came in and did a really good job for us (Friday),” Irwin said. “Our starter got hurt during last week’s game against McEachern, and (Aarons) came in and played well then, too. Will should be fine next week, though.”
Aarons led a 14-play, 63-yard drive on Lassiter’s first possession, capped by his 15-yard touchdown run, to put the Trojans ahead 7-0.
Sprayberry’s Ricky Dover recovered a fumble on Lassiter’s next drive that led to Shane Young’s 4-yard scoring run and a 7-all tie with 11:48 left in the second.
One possession later, Aarons found Blake Penter for a 13-yard touchdown toss. A stalled Sprayberry drive resulted in a punt, but Sidney Lindley forced a fumble that was recovered by Jason Simmons, giving the Yellow Jackets new life. However, two sacks from Michael Ballard turned momentum back in the Trojans’ favor as they held a seven-point halftime lead.
Lassiter didn’t have as many issues in the second half. Aarons found Quincy Purdue wide-open in the middle of the field for a 64-yard touchdown. He scored on a 1-yard plunge on the Trojans’ next drive, and ran from 10-yards out on the next possession for the 35-7 margin with 4:28 left in the third.
Daniels had a 25-yard run and a 15-yard reception during the drive to set up Aarons’ score.
Lassiter rolled up 219 yards in the third quarter.
“If we run the ball, we’re fine,” Irwin said. “We played well in the second half, but we still need to clean up things with region games coming up in two weeks. Kell is a very good team, and we play them next week, so we need to be sharper on offense.”
Sprayberry picked up its final 16 points after Shane King ran in for a 3-yard score and Andrew Pierra scrambled into the end zone following a 10-yard dash. A punt over the head of Luke Hardin went out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a safety for Sprayberry.
Mason Waters had 16 carries for 81 yards for Lassiter and Daniels had five rushes for 86 yards. Perdue caught six passes for 101 yards.
Young totaled 103 yards on 25 carries to pace Sprayberry. King had 12 carries for 57 yards, while Pierra posted seven carries for 42 yards.
“Football is a simple game,” Sprayberry coach Billy Shackelford said. “You play hard every down and you perform. I didn’t have a problem with our effort, but I did have a problem with how we performed. Great teams perform and make plays. We have to finish and we have to perform. Effort is not enough.”