Mortimer Jordan spent most of Friday's second round playoff game in East Limestone territory, but couldn't find a way to get in the end zone in a 10-0 loss to end the Blue Devils' season.
The Blue Devils’ defense matched the No. 3 team in the state, but three second-half turnovers proved to be the difference in a game filled with penalties for both sides.
"Those guys have been averaging about 40 points per game against good teams," said Indians head coach Jeff Pugh. "For our defense to shut them out, our defense needs to be named. Those guys played one heck of a football game."
East put together its longest drive of the season to score the game's only touchdown in the second quarter and put the game in its defense's hands in the second half.
"I told them at halftime, '10 points in a game like this is huge,'" said Pugh. "When two defenses are playing like that, points are huge. When we got (a touchdown) and were able to get those two big stops in the first half, I told our guys, 'You're going to wear them down.' And we did."
Jordan spent most of the first quarter in East territory, but was unable to come away with points thanks to two big fourth-down stops from the Indians defense.
After stalling on its first two possessions, East Limestone put together a 20-play, 75-yard drive in the second quarter that took more than nine minutes off the game clock. On the drive, Brick Pugh connected with Chase Long on a 17-yard pass to put East at the 1-yard.
Two plays later, Josh Petty scored the game's only touchdown from six yards out to give East a 7-0 lead with just over a minute remaining until halftime.
The game-winning drive was highlighted by a 24-yard catch by Long from Pugh on third-and-21 conversion from the 23-yard line. Pugh connected with Long again on fourth down from the Blue Devils' 25 to keep the drive alive.
Long came up big for the Indians again after halftime by intercepting Jordan quarterback Duncan Hodges pass near midfield. The turnover set up a 21-yard field goal by Brad Moreau that gave East a two-score cushion midway through the third quarter.
Following the field goal, East Limestone did not throw a pass and was content to put the game in its defense's hands.
Jordan threatened to score twice in the fourth quarter, but both time the Indians defense did just enough to keep the visitors out of the end zone. Early in the fourth, Landon Smith fumbled the ball at the East Limestone 2-yard line, and Indians linebacker Alex Rodriguez jumped on the loose football to preserve the shutout.
Rodriguez then intercepted another Hodges' pass at the East Limestone 27 to seal the victory. He finished the game with an interception, fumble recovery and led the team in tackles.
For Jordan, Hodges completed 11-of-18 pass attempts for 165 yards and two interceptions. Landon Smith led the ground game with 10 carries for 41 yards.
DeVante Lewis recorded an interception for Mortimer Jordan while Dontrez Green got a sack in the first quarter.
Pugh completed 11 of 15 pass attempts for 124 yards and an interception for the Indians. Blake Tucker carried the ball 15 times for 70 yards and a touchdown while Petty had 13 carries for 27 yards and the game's only touchdown.
Long had four catches for 68 yards and an interception on defense.
Jordan had 11 penalties for 97 yards, while East was penalized 12 times for 103 yards.
The loss ends the Devils’ season with a 10-2 record, and marks only the seventh time in program history that the team has gone two rounds into the playoffs.
Jonathan Deal is the sports editor for The News-Courier, our sister CNHI newspaper in Athens. The NJN's Robert Carter also contributed to this report.
[Edited at 3:40 p.m. Nov. 17 to correct the Jordan player who fumbled.]