De La Salle strikes early, survives late rally to topple Karr, 28-26

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Video: De La Salle-Karr game broadcast
Video: De La Salle coach Ryan Manale postgame

NEW ORLEANS — Defending Class 4A champion Edna Karr, riding a 16-game winning streak, trekked across town for a game against De La Salle in a game billed as a heavyweight showdown.

The game delivered as advertised.

De La Salle (3-0) raced out to an early 21-0 lead and held on late for a thrilling 28-26 victory at Tad Gormley Stadium. The win marked the Cavaliers’ 14th straight regular season triumph.

“The special teams and offense stepped up in the first half, and the defense held on in the second half,” De La Salle head coach Ryan Manale explained.

Cavalier senior quarterback Julien Gums led the way for his squad, posting 188 yards rushing on 25 carries, and tailback Kendall Collins added three touchdowns on the ground.

Afterward, Gums tried to summarize the contributions from his teammates.

“B.J. Randle took the opening kickoff and scored, and that set the tone for us,” Gums said.  “The offensive line did their job, the defense did their job, and we just came out here against a very good defense and played hard.”

The Cougars remained patient despite an early three-score deficit, trusting the defense to keep the De La Salle offense in check as they mounted a comeback.

Karr (2-1) finally answered with two quick strikes after trailing 21-0. First, quarterback Skylar Perry hit Anthony Spurlock for a 13-yard touchdown.  After forcing a quick punt, the Cougars exploded for a 3-play, 62 yard touchdown drive capped by Ronnie Jackson’s 11 yard run to bring the Karr back to within 7 at 21-14.

On the first drive of the second half, the Cougars mixed the run and pass en route to a 13-play touchdown drive,. Perry hit Spurlock from 7 yards for the touchdown to make it 28-20.  The PAT was missed, however, leaving the deficit at 8.

After six straight punts, the Cougars finally gained traction on offense again late.  A 14-play possession – powered by seven runs from Jackson – ended as the senior running back scored from one-yard out to push the score to 28-26.  On the crucial two-point try, defensive back Lance Robinson and lineman Theodore Tyler combined to corral Perry for no gain.

Karr had one last chance to complete the comeback, but Perry’s last-second desperation pass was picked off by Joseph Husband in the end zone.

“We executed our game plan to perfection, both offensively and special teams,” Manale said.  “In the second half I said if we don’t turn the ball over we’ll find a way, and that’s exactly what we did.”

De La Salle wasted no time in striking first.  Randle took the opening kickoff and dashed 92 yards through a gaping hole in the Cougar coverage team.  The extra point by Fynn LaBreche made it 7-0 after seconds.

On the ensuing De La Salle drive Gums picked up where Randle left off.  The Cavalier quarterback dashed 70 yards to set up a 5-yard touchdown pass to Collins.  LaBreche’s point after made it 14-0 in favor of the Cavs.

De La Salle’s special teams again kept the pressure on with a pop-up kickoff, which Karr’s up men mishandled.  Ryan Hamrick recovered the loose ball.  The Cavaliers capitalized on the short field four plays later with Collins’ 34 yard scamper for the score pushing the lead to 21-0.

De La Salle again turned to the duo of Gums and Collins to stretch the lead back to two touchdowns as Collins rushed for his third score of the day, making it 28-14 midway through the second quarter.

Karr was poised to pull back late in the half, but a 10-play drive ended on downs when the Cougars dropped a couple of passes in the end zone to come up empty. Falling just short was the theme of the night for a frustrated Karr squad.

De La Salle gets a bye week to savor the victory, while Karr must turn around and face a dangerous Carver team next week.

“So proud of my guys for hanging in. We survived,” Manale said of the physical contest, which saw several De La Salle players miss time due to injury.

For a program on the rise, De La Salle has a signature win with hopes of bringing home a state championship trophy in December.

“This is the best win I’ve ever had,” concluded Manale.  “This means everything.  I love being a Cavalier.”

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