City League championship game: Walnut Ridge 14, Eastmoor Academy 6
As he did throughout an abbreviated season in which he was named the Division II district Defensive Player of the Year, Walnut Ridge senior Jamarius Dinkins made a key play when his team needed it Nov. 14 in the City League championship game against top-seeded Eastmoor Academy at Africentric.
Dinkins picked up a fumble at the Warriors' 4, and two plays later Javarus Leach ran for a 2-yard touchdown for the third-seeded Scots with 7 minutes, 1 second left.
Leach also added the two-point conversion run for the final points in a 14-6 victory, as Walnut Ridge finished 6-3 and Eastmoor closed the season at 5-1.
"The plan was to pick it up and try to get a touchdown, but it just happened so fast," said Dinkins, who also had a sack two plays before the fumble recovery. "At the end of the day I feel like we stuck together as a team and fought hard."
Eastmoor nearly took the lead when Tramon Hairston got the ball from quarterback Ahmad Armstrong and threw a 78-yard touchdown to Cameron Foster three plays before Dinkins' fumble recovery on a mishandled snap, but the Warriors were whistled for a false start to nullify the play.
Leach, who finished with 37 carries for 183 yards, ran for 11 yards on third-and-6 from the Scots’ 29 with 3:01 remaining and Walnut Ridge ran out the clock.
"Our thought was potentially a state championship, but this is the next best thing for these kids," Scots coach Byron Mattox said. "This is the way I envisioned these guys coming in and winning something big."
Walnut Ridge took advantage of the game's first break.
After Eastmoor failed to get off a punt at its own 8 with 4:40 left in the first quarter, Leach ran for 3 yards on first down and scored on the next play on a 5-yard run to make it 6-0. The two-point conversion pass failed.
The Warriors tied it with 6:54 left before halftime when Armstrong hit Isaiah Pressley downfield and he sprinted for an 85-yard touchdown. The extra-point attempt failed, leaving the score tied at 6.
Walnut Ridge lost to Eastmoor 25-19 on Sept. 24.
"Penalties, penalties, penalties," Warriors coach Jim Miranda said. "We had the fumble, and turnovers were the difference in the game. Our defense played tough, but it's hard to bounce back like that."
WALNUT RIDGE: 6-0-0-0--6
EASTMOOR ACADEMY: 0-6-0-8--14
WR—Leach 5 run (pass failed)
EA—Pressley 85 pass from Armstrong (kick failed)
WR—Leach 2 run (Leach run)