Etowah (7-3, 4-3) didn’t leave empty-handed, however, as it was able to advance to the state playoffs with Wheeler’s win over Cherokee.
Had Cherokee been able to maintain what was a 20-point lead, Etowah would have missed out on the playoffs altogether.
Etowah coach Dave Svehla said it didn’t feel good to leave his team’s fate in the hands of another team.
“You want to control your own destiny, and we did,” Svehla said. “We came up short against a good team. I’m proud of our kids. Our kids played hard. We fought back through some adversity.”
After the game, Lassiter coach Jep Irwin dodged a pair of water buckets, but his players successfully doused him on the third attempt, as they celebrated their second straight region title.
“It feels great,” Irwin said. “We made the plays when we needed to (Friday night) and got the job done.”
The No. 1 seed in hand, Lassiter (7-3, 6-1) will host Peachtree Ridge, the No. 4 of Region 7AAAAAA next week.
Etowah will be forced to travel to the region’s top seed, Norcross.
Etowah shut down the Trojans’ running game after a big first quarter, which saw Lassiter jump to a 10-0 lead.
The Eagles got themselves back in the game midway through the second quarter.
Etowah returned a kickoff to the 15, but was backed up to its own 8 after a holding call. With plenty of space to go to work, senior quarterback John Oliver connected with tight end Bronson Rechsteiner off the corner. The sophomore — on offense for the first time this season after spending most of the year on defense — broke away for a 92-yard touchdown, which made the score 10-7.
Etowah had a chance to tie it near the end of the first half, but a 47-yard field goal attempt by Edwin Alfaro was slightly off the mark, and the score stood.
The Trojans, who were held to fewer than 40 rushing yards in the final two quarters, began airing the ball out for big plays.
Corey Johns was on the receiving end of a short pass by Will Anderson, but he broke free and turned it into a 62-yard touchdown less than 2 minutes into the second half for a 17-7 advantage.
On the ensuing drive by the Eagles, Brandon Engle cut into the lead when he ran around the end untouched for a 16-yard touchdown run.
But Lassiter was able to string together three touchdowns over the next 9 minutes, including two in a span of 42 seconds.
Johns scored on runs of 9 and 2 yards to push the score to 30-14. On the kickoff following the second touchdown, Etowah fumbled the ball, giving possession back to the Trojans on the Eagles’ 18. Three plays later, they were back in the end zone, with a 2-yard touchdown run by Derion Cannon.
Irwin said the string of big plays was just what the Trojans needed.
“We need to make some big plays against man coverage when we weren’t able to run the ball,” Irwin said. “We made the plays we needed to in the second half.”
With 4:22 to play, Engle scored on a 64-yard touchdown run, but Etowah would get no closer.
Oliver was 8-for-18 passing for 190 yards and a touchdown.
Anderson had a big night for the Trojans. He finished with nearly 300 passing yards, including plays of 62, 44, and 63 yards. Duby Nwaubi, his primary target for the night, finished with four catches for 109 yards.