TRENTON — In a back-and-forth battle Friday night, a special teams play made the difference for Lafayette High.
Senior Mark Crum recovered an onside kick that helped the Hornets seize control in a 41-35 win at Trenton to close out the regular season.
Lafayette, which improved to 9-1, trailed most of the way before a Montae Gillyard scoring run in the third put the Hornets up 34-29.
“Montae had a great night,” LHS coach Mark Beach said. “The touchdown … it was just a powerful Montae run that he does. We knew he was capable of it … and we needed him. It changed the complexion of the game.
“The big play, Mark Crum had the big onside kick recovery on our sideline that was absolutely huge. After we got that, it opened up a little bit…I gave him the game ball because that was the play of the game. It was huge.”
After Trenton, which closes the regular season 5-5, regained the lead 35-34 in the fourth, the Hornets turned to their do-everything All-State signal caller.
Jaxson Beach responded with his third scoring run of the game, from 3 yards out, for the game-winning score for LHS. Beach finished with 140 yards and the three touchdowns on 21 carries. He also completed 8 of 11 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Trailing 8-0 in the first quarter, Beach scored from 13 yards out for his first scoring touchdown — his 20th rushing score of the year.
He answered another Trenton touchdown with a rushing score as the Hornets trailed 15-13 at halftime.
“They’re pretty tough,” Mark Beach said of Trenton. “We were kind of worried about because they’re pretty awesome on offense.”
In the third quarter, Beach hit Nic’kel Freeman for a 20-yard touchdown to close within 21-20 before his second scoring run made it 29-27. Freeman finished with six catches for 68 yards and also intercepted a pass inside the LHS 1 on fourth down.
Gillyard added 96 yards rushing on 10 carries as Lafayette rushed for 269 yards.
“We created the matchups we needed to get the victory,” Mark Beach added.
The Florida High School Athletic Association releases its playoff brackets Sunday at 7 a.m. and the Hornets will see if they earned a first-round bye as a top 2 regional seed.
Lafayette entered the last week of the regular season third in Region 3-1A behind Madison County, the two-time defending state champion, and Dixie County. The Bears lost Thursday at Westside to close the regular season 6-3.
“I told our guys, ‘Cross your fingers,’” Beach said.