In a game littered with turnovers, the Ferris Saxons took advantage of the last two by the Eisenhower Cadets.
A fumble recovery by senior linebacker Cole Lemer at the Cadets’ 46-yard line set up the winning touchdown as the defending state champ Saxons held off Eisenhower 38-31 in a 4A play-in game late Friday at Joe Albi Stadium.
Ferris (9-1) faces Central Valley (7-3), a 24-0 winner over Chiawana, next weekend at Albi. The game date and time are to be determined.
Four plays after Lemer’s fumble recovery, Drew Sharkey wouldn’t go down on a 16-yard touchdown run up the gut that put the Saxons ahead 38-31 with 2:06 remaining.
With Eisenhower having to throw deep, sophomore Cole Karstetter got his second interception and slid to the turf at the 21 with seconds remaining.
Lemer actually ran past Ike running back Branden Curtis before he backtracked and recovered the fumble.
“I was on a blitz and he (Curtis) ran past me,” Lemer said. “I trailed him up the field, I saw the ball pop out and I dove on it. I held on for dear life.”
Earlier in the quarter, Ike (8-2) took a 31-24 lead, culminating 17 straight points, when Curtis scored on a 2-yard run with 10:54 to go.
The Cadets intercepted a pass on the Saxons’ next series, but Ferris’ defense stopped Ike and forced a punt.
Taking over at the Cadets’ 48, Ferris coach Jim Sharkey called a receiver pass, and Lemer put a lot of air under a 28-yard pass to Duncan McNally, who caught it at the 20. Five plays later, Sharkey scored easily over right guard from 3 yards out to even the score at 31 with 3:41 to go.
“They’re a good football team and they were a lot more physical up front than we expected,” coach Sharkey said. “Their coaches did a great job preparing them and they had a great plan and executed it. They did a great job early getting off our blocks and sending some guys to our base plays. So we had to get a little more creative.”
Ike scored the game’s first TD, but Ferris fought back to open a 24-14 lead by halftime.
Ferris running back Kole Heidinger had a game-high 150 yards on 24 carries, but Sharkey’s 99 on 16 proved to be big, along with his play on defense.
“I thought Drew played one of his best games ever,” Jim Sharkey said.
Drew Sharkey is looking forward to the rematch with CV. He expects a physical battle.
“It will be a good rematch,” he said. “They’ll come out really hot. They’ll want some revenge.”