Southeastern faced first-and-goal at the 9-yard line, but was unable to convert on four-straight pass plays in the closing seconds as the East Central Tigers held on for a 23-16 win over the host Savage Storm Saturday afternoon at Paul Laird Field.
East Central finished the season at the .500 mark (5-5), while the archrival Savage Storm stumbled to 2-9. It was the season finale for both teams.
The win was the fourth straight in the series for the Tigers and gives ECU a 46-45-6 advantage in the 97-year history of the rivalry.
The Tigers held SOSU to 16 points despite the Savage Storm holding a 391 to 253 edge in total yards, with 138 yards rushing and 253 through the air. ECU managed just 80 rushing yards, and quarterback Spencer Bond was 14-of-28 for 170 yards through the air.
Southeastern QB Nick Sioson was 28-of-52 for 253 yards with a touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions.
The Savage Storm jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter with a season-long 43-yard field goal off the foot of Chris Peoples with 12:26 to play in the first and then a 44-yard Sioson to Anthony Foster TD toss with 6:43 to play in the quarter.
The Tigers would answer with a Bond to Caleb Holley 9-yard TD pass at the 10:24 mark of the second quarter, followed by a Trevor Hunt 28-yard field goal with 5:29 to play in the half.
The teams would go to the locker room at the break knotted at 9-9.
Holley would finish with four catches for 64 yards and became ECU’s single-season record holder with a total of 970 yards, breaking the old mark of 930 set by Chris Barnes in 2001.
ECU would continue its momentum out of the break, scoring twice in the third quarter with Lindsey Anderson returning a fumble 36 yards for a score at the 13:27 mark and Bond picking up another TD on a 1-yard keeper with 7:06 remaining to put the Storm in a 23-9 hole.
SOSU tailback back Deylon Wortham scored on a 10-yard touchdown run with 7:03 to play in the game to cut the deficit to 23-16. Wortham would finish with 138 yards rushing on 25 totes.
The hosts would get the ball one last time with 1:56 to play and march down the field, thanks in large part to a 30-yard pass to Kaymon Farmer to convert third-and-14 followed by a pass to Wortham that picked up 22 yards to the ECU 4-yard line.
A false start penalty would back the ball up to the 9, where Southeastern would see four straight pass attempts miss the mark, allowing ECU to hang on for the tight victory.