Karr avoids upset, holds off Carver for 40-35 win in Class 4A second round

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ALGIERS, La. — Edna Karr has established itself as among the elite in Louisiana high school football, especially at home.  The defending Class 4A state champions had not lost a home game in three years and looked to be primed to roll through the playoff bracket after surrendering no more than 13 points in each of the last four weeks.

Yet the top-seeded Cougars (11-1) received all they could handle tonight, needing a late 54-yard touchdown pass from Skyler Perry to Anthony Spurlock to finally separate from an undaunted No. 16 seed Carver in a thrilling 40-35 second-round playoff win at Behrman Stadium.

Carver (7-4) put all of Karr’s mettle to the test, as the Rams held a 35-34 lead with 2:37 remaining.  Needing to find an answer, the two senior playmakers came through in the clutch, as they had all game long.  The scoring pass was Perry’s fourth of the night, two of which found Spurlock in huge moments.

“We talked all during the week about senior leadership,” Karr Coach Brice Brown said of his senior stalwarts.  “Anthony Spurlock is a 2-3 year starter, and we expect him to make those plays.

“When it’s crunch time, he’ll deliver, and that’s what he did tonight.”

“I told my team and myself that I’ve got to make that play,” Spurlock said of the winning catch.  “It’s my senior year, and I’ve got to go out with a bang.”

“I knew on that play, I knew he had my back,” Perry said.  “I put the ball out there and let him make a play.”

Perry finished 9 of 14 passing for 136 yards and 4 touchdowns for Karr.  Spurlock led the receiving corps with 73 yards and two scores, while Ronnie Jackson powered a running attack with 122 yards and a touchdown.

The Rams tested Karr with creative play-calling and electric athletes.  “At the end, we fought hard, but we couldn’t finish them off,” a disappointed Carver Coach Byron Addison said.  “But [tonight’s effort] lets people that we’re trying to bring Carver back to where we used to be.”

“Those guys played their butts off over there,” Brown complimented the Rams. “We haven’t been tested like that in years, so hats off to them.”

Quarterback Izea Hurst authored a tremendous performance for the Rams, as the senior signal-caller brought his team back from deficits of 21-0 early and 34-28 late.  But a 3rd-quarter injury slowed the dynamic Hurst at a critical juncture, short-circuiting two drives as Karr took command 34-28 via a 32-yard connection from Perry to Spurlock.

“Izea was hurting,” Addison said.  “We turned to Quincy Curry, our guy for the future, and said, just go do what you can.”

Hurst came back to lead an 8-play, 61 yard march to retake the lead.  Hurst connected with big-play receiver Gary Young on a 31-yard score to move ahead 35-34.  An exchange of punts on the ensuing drives set up the final dagger for Karr.

Hurst finished 15 of 32 passing for 201 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 108 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

The Rams’ speed gave the Cougar defense fits all night long, as the Karr defense gave up yardage in chunks thanks to big plays and pass interference penalties.

“We gave up a lot of big plays, but we made big plays too,” Brown observed.  “When crunch time came, we were able to make big plays and get off the field.”

The game looked to be following the script early for Karr.  The Cougars took the opening kickoff and promply marched 63 yards in 7 plays.  Ronnie Jackson’s 10 yard touchdown run put Karr in front 7-0 following the extra point.

Carver’s Keyon Clark then coughed up a fumble on the Rams’ first snap.  Ronnell Burbank’s recovery put the Cougars back in business, and six plays later Perry found Jahaii Howard for a 15-yard strike and a 14-0 lead.

The Rams then took a giant step backward on their ensuing possession, as a bad snap eluded the grasp of Hurst, who batted the ball toward his own goal line attempting to recover.  The Cougars’ Jamier Jackson scooped up the loose ball and trotted in for an 8-yard score on the recovery to stretch the Karr advantage to 21-0.

But then the Rams decided to flip that script, starting in dramatic fashion.

Gary Young took the Karr kickoff and rocketed upfield, covering 83 yards in a flash.  The special teams touchdown drew the Rams to within 21-7.

The Rams then forced a turnover when Wayne Washington fell on a Ronnie Jackson fumble.  The play set the tone that Carver would keep competing.

The defense followed the fumble recovery with a three-and-out on Karr’s next drive, handing the ball back to Hurst and the offense.  Employing an unconventional formation for key plays, including a 4th-and-7 conversion, the Rams reached paydirt again, this time via a Hurst 2-yard burst.  The score then stood at 21-14 early in the second quarter.

Carver stiffened again, forcing yet another three-and-out.  Thanks to big plays and two critical penalties against Karr, the Rams were on the move again.  Hurst and Lynarise Elpheage Jr. connected on a 7-yard touchdown pass midway through the second to knot the score at 21.

Carver came out of halftime and took their first lead of the night on a 41-yard dash by Hurst.  That touchdown put the Rams in front 28-21 and set the stage for the late-game drama.

Perry reflected on the fortitude of his team to come back and win tonight.

“Adversity builds character, so this is just another stepping stone for us, fighting through and getting where they want to be,” Perry said.

Karr resumes its playoff push next week at home against eighth-seeded Northwood of Shreveport.

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