REPLAY: Late field goal lifts Carver past Landry in 17-14 playoff thriller

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NEW ORLEANS – It’s never easy to beat a team twice in the same season. Carver Head Coach Byron Addison knew his team would have to fight to the very end to accomplish that feat Friday night against the L.B. Landry Buccaneers.

And fight to the very end they did.

Terance Lambert’s 37-yard field goal with 10 seconds left cleared the crossbar by inches, securing the 17-14 victory for the ninth-seeded Rams at Joe Brown Stadium in a first round Class 4A playoff game broadcast live by Crescent City Sports.

“When we got the offsides and got those five yards, I knew he was going to make it,” said Addison about the crucial offsides call that moved the ball five yards closer for the game winning kick.

Carver (7-1) squeaked out a win over Landry (4-5) during the regular season six weeks ago in a low scoring 15-13 contest. This game was equally low scoring but it would prove to be even closer than the first one.

Tied up 14-14, the Rams had a punt blocked by Devin Hymes, Jr., setting up the Buccaneers deep in Carver territory with 2:58 to play in the game.

As they had all night long, the Rams defense stepped up for a crucial stop, stuffing two Buccaneer rushing attempts for only two yards and forcing an incompletion on third and long at the Carver 29-yard line.

With less than 90 seconds to play in the game, Landry sent their field goal unit to attempt a 46-yard kick to try to give them their first lead of the game. This time, the Carver special teams rose to the occasion, blocking the kick to preserve the tie and giving the Rams the ball at their own 24-yard line with 1:18 to play in the contest.

“I told our offensive coordinator, just get us close,” said Addison. “I said just get us close and we can win it at the end.”

Landry committed a pair of crucial penalties, gifting Carver 20 yards to move them to midfield. Junior quarterback Christian Cojoe then connected with senior wide receiver Gregory Emery for 31 yards to the Landry 22-yard line.

A false start penalty set Carver back five yards to the 27, and the field goal team took the field facing a 42-yard attempt two plays later. Next, the Buccaneers jumped offsides for the second time on the drive before Lambert’s winning kick.

The game was close the entire night. Carver never led by more than one score.

In such a tight contest, you need breaks to help tip the scales in your favor, and Carver wasted no time cashing in when luck came their way.

An errant snap sailed over the head of the Landry punter mid-way through the first quarter, resulting in a 36-yard loss and setting the Rams up with first-and-goal at the Buccaneers 5-yard line. Two penalties and six-yard loss moved the Rams backwards, and an opportunity to capitalize on the great field position appeared to be squandered. But on 4th and Goal, Cojoe connected with junior Tyron Johns in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown to give Carver a 7-0 lead with 3:53 to play in first quarter.

Landry answered on the ensuing possessions, putting together the most impressive drive of the night by either team.

Starting at their own 33-yard line, the Buccaneers methodically marched down the field with a 13-play drive, capped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Jerome Stewart to senior Gerald Martin. Carver still held a 7-6 lead after the misses point-after with 8:43 to play in the first half.

The Rams switched quarterbacks in the second half and needed only two drives before finding the end zone again. Taking over at their own 40-yard line, Emery broke free for an 18-yard run to move them into Landry territory. Three plays later, senior quarterback Anochee Davis found Johns on a 40-yard touchdown pass to stretch the Carver lead to 14-6 over the midway point in the third period.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Stewart would put the team on his back to lead Landry back to the end zone. He threw a 19-yard pass on first down to move the Bucs up to midfield. Following an Unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Rams, two more Stewart passes had his team down to the Rams 14-yard line. Three plays later, Stewart plowed his way into the end zone on a 5-yard keeper to close the Carver lead to 14-12.

Stewart’s heroics on the drive were followed by more on the two-point try when he passed to senior running back Belvin Banks in the end zone, who reeled in the catch after initially bobbling the throw, tying the game up 14-14 with 5:35 remaining.

After the blocked punt, it appeared the comeback would be completed but the Rams came up with the huge defensive stop and blocked kick to survive and advance.

“Our kids never got down,” said Addison. “We never let up, kept fighting and scored the hard-fought victory.”

Carver will keep fighting next Friday, hitting the road for a second round matchup at Plaquemine against the No. 25 seeded Green Devils.

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