One play was all Danny Daggett needed to shift momentum. Just in case, the Josey junior decided to make two game- changing plays.
Daggett scored on a 75-yard fumble return, then opened the second half with a 94-yard kickoff return for another score as the Eagles finished the regular season with a 30-12 victory over visiting Westside on Friday night.
"It's like a big pile of gasoline," Josey coach Barney Chavous said. "And when you do something like that, you just put a match on it."
Daggett's two long touchdowns gave the Eagles (4-6, 3-3 Region 7-AA) a sliver of postseason hope. Entering the game, Josey needed a win and some help to make the playoffs.
Westside, though, seemed determined to render that scenario unlikely, dominating the first quarter and taking a 6-0 lead on Jay Tarver's 19-yard run.
The Patriots were poised to take a double-digit lead on their next possession but unraveled inside the Eagles' 10-yard line. Josey's Leonard Marsh stuffed Tarver to cause a fumble, which Daggett scooped up and returned to tie the game.
After that, the Patriots (5-5, 2-4) were never the same.
"It was just a momentum-type swing," Westside coach Gerald Barnes said. "We didn't ever recover from that."
Westside's next six possessions produced just 98 yards, and the Patriots finished the game with five turnovers.
Josey took the lead for good on a 19-yard run from Sam Williams with 4:50 remaining in the first half. Daggett made sure the Eagles didn't lose any momentum when he took the second-half kickoff up the left sideline, cut back through the middle of the field and raced down the right side for an 18-6 lead.
In addition to his two touchdowns, Daggett also picked off a pass in the end zone to thwart another Westside opportunity at the end of the first half.
Of course, the possibility of extending the season kept the Eagles motivated throughout the game.
Chavous, though, wasn't looking ahead, even though coaches and fans frantically searched for other scores that would reveal Josey's fate.
"I don't know about all that," Chavous said. "All I wanted to do was try to win tonight."
KEVIN MARTIN/STAFFWestside's Jon Wiley (left) tackles Josey's Najee Tolbert during the first half at Josey on Friday night. [CAPTION]
Above, Josey's Danny Daggett returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown against Westside to begin the second half.At left, Westside's Jay Tarver (21) scored the Patriots' only touchdown in a 30-12 loss.[CAPTION]
KEVIN MARTIN/STAFFJosey's Danny Daggett returns a kickoff for a touchdown against Westside in the second half.[CAPTION]
Westside's Jon Wiley (left) tackles Josey's Najee Tolbert during the first half. The Eagles' win keeps their playoff hopes alive.