Edna Karr fends off Warren Easton to capture third consecutive Class 4A state title

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Photos by Beau Brune:

NEW ORLEANS – The Cougars of Edna Karr High completed a doubleheader sweep of the Warren Easton Eagles and captured their 27th consecutive win to claim their third consecutive state title (the school’s fourth). Then they boarded a bus for a return trip to the West Bank Saturday night as a state champion —  once again.

Two defensive gems late in the fourth quarter quashed Easton’s rally hopes and enabled the Cougars to hang on to a 28-20 victory in the Class 4A title game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl LHSAA Prep Classic in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

With 4:41 remaining, Easton (11-3) mounted a drive to possibly force overtime, reaching the Karr 16-yard line after a 27-yard pass from quarterback Lance Legendre to Ashaad Clayton.

On the next play, however, Karr linebacker Joseph Thomas ripped the ball from an Easton back and returned that turnover 49 yards to neutralize one threat.

After Easton regained possession, the Cougars’ defensive pressure resulted in an interception by Austin Kent at the 21-yard line with 1:01 to play, assuring Karr of another title.

“We knew Easton was going to throw the first punch at us,” said Karr Coach Brice Brown. “We had to punch them back.”

The Eagles led 12-0 after one period but trailed 14-12 at halftime after a pair of Easton PAT attempts were blocked.

Easton stunned the Cougars immediately when Legendre found a wide open Kentrell Boyd for a 49-yard gain on the team’s first snap. On the next play, Legendre optioned right and bolted through a gaping hole for a 25-yard touchdown and a 6-0 lead after only 36 seconds.

On the heels of an interception by Easton’s Jahmal Sam, Legendre broke loose again, this time for a 67-yard score and a 12-0 after a 58-second drive.

The first quarter would belong to Easton; the second belonged to Karr.

The Cougars got a crucial break when a short punt on 4th down, a kick that would have given Easton ideal field position turned into a first down for Karr after a roughing-the-kicker penalty.

Karr’s Jahii Howard trimmed the margin to 12-7 on an 8-yard scoring run at 9:56. Karr would then assume a slim 14-12 lead on a 1-yard rush by Ahmad Antoine at 2:12.

Then two exchanged third-period scores. Howard gave Karr an 21-12 lead at 5:59 on a 17 yard run. Easton countered on a 17-yard TD pass from Legendre to Kiaeem Green. Legendre scored the two-point conversion to trim the edge to 21-20 but Easton would never take the lead.

A 31-yard scoring pass from Karr junior quarterback  Leonard Kelly to Howard on a deep slant pattern rounded out the scoring with 10:20 fremaining.

“This will hurt tomorrow morning,” said Karr coach Jerry Phillips. “I am kind of numb right now.

“You can’t make that many mistakes against a team like Karr,” he said. “You can’t do that in a championship game. That is why we are sitting here with a silver trophy.

“Our players are not trained to be losers. I feel like if you don’t win it all, you might just as well go 1-9.”

Game stats numbers were eyelash close: Karr (15-0) had 21 first downs, Easton 20. The Eagles rushed for 128 yards to 53 for Karr. The Cougars, who edged Easton 21-20 in the regular season, passed for 154 yards to 109 for the Eagles.

Karr’s Howard, who accounted for three scores, and Legendre, were singled out at the game’s Outstanding Players.

“All our teams have a journey in mind,” said Brown . “Do you want to be going home on a bus or do you want to hold a trophy? They all want to leave a legacy of their own.”

The Karr seniors of 2018-‘19 have done just that.

Dean of the Dome Notes:

*After half a century at John Curtis, coach J.T. Curtis has compiled an overall record of 582-64-6 since 1969, the second highest total in prep football history. The leader, John McKissick of Summerville, S.C., concluded his career in 2014 with a mark of 621-155-13 and seven state titles. McKissick, born in 1926, never missed a day of work in his 62 seasons. Curtis, 72, trails McKissick by 39 victories.

Competing in Division I select could prolong the wait as Curtis usually earns a bye in the smaller bracket and, as a result, plays three playoff games instead of the five games under the former Class 5A format.

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