East Hamilton's defense was determined to keep Soddy-Daisy out of the end zone Thursday night.
With 9:26 left to play, senior defensive back Justin Lee put the final touches on a 35-0 Region 3-4A victory for the host Hurricanes. With the Trojans 11 yards away from scoring, Lee swatted the pass from over the top of the receiver in the end zone — and then, a play later, nearly had an interception as he jumped a route for the turnover on downs.
"Senior night really snuck up on me," said Lee, who has 11 pass deflections this season. "I love these nights with my teammates. Nothing beats coming out here and playing under the bright lights. Out here we have built a lifelong bond. I am really cherishing these moments because I know later down the road I am going to miss them."
Applying pressure up front, like he has done all season, was senior defensive lineman Mel McFarland. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound explosive edge rusher was sharp again as he chased down the quarterback and running back for the majority of the night. McFarland had three tackles for loss, which brings him to 30 this season.
Soddy-Daisy was held to 127 yards of offense as a unit under the assistance of defensive mastermind Wayne Turner posted its third region shutout of the season. Ethan Beckwith had an interception for the second straight week.
"I'm proud of our defense," McFarland said. "We are going to do our best every game to disrupt things for our opponent. For me, I play with finesse and power. But a lot of the success starts from hard work in practice, the weight room and film room. I love being out here and battling in the trenches for this team."
East Hamilton (6-1, 4-0) edged closer to a region championship with its well-balanced offense.
Senior standout Kaunyae Burgans broke out early and finished with six catches for 98 yards. The 6-3 receiver scored the opening touchdown as he juked a defender on a 12-yard pass from Lake Clark. Juan Bullard was hard to stop between the tackles as the Hurricanes' tough runner went for 127 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries.
Clark supplied 233 yards through the air on 18-of-32 passing as brothers Jaxon and Jeremiah Flemmons combined for 116 receiving yards. Jeremiah had 76 through the air and 30 more on the ground, which included a 12-yard touchdown. He also had a long score that was called back.
Soddy-Daisy's defensive line had two sacks and recovered a fumble, but the Trojans lost for the sixth time in seven games this season and fell to 0-4 in 3-4A.
East Hamilton is off next week before visiting Red Bank with the region championship up for grabs.
"As long as we stay on top of what we do, we should definitely win that championship," McFarland said. "We just have to keep working hard and go out there and be the best we can be."