Karr overpowers Crowley in regional tilt
NEW ORLEANS – Heading into Thursday’s Class 4A regional playoff game against Edna Karr, Crowley coach Josh Fontenot knew his players would have to play the game of their lives to even have a chance against the No. 2-seeded Cougars.
Unfortunately, the Gents were nowhere near perfect and the Cougars made them pay for it time and time again en route to a 55-7 victory at Tad Gormley Stadium.
“We knew this would be a big challenge for us and it was,” said Fontenot, whose Gents had three turnovers in the game that led to touchdowns. “We did what we could and fought and tried, but we were a little overwhelmed and shell shocked at the beginning.
“They (Karr) are just great. They are as good as advertised, if not better and they just beat us.”
It was evident early that the Cougars, with 11 Division I commitments in their lineup, were simply too big, too fast and too strong for the Gents.
After forcing the Gents to punt after just three plays to begin the game, the Cougars took over on the CHS 36-yard line and after an incompletion, Devante “Speedy” Noil broke off a 31-yard run down to the 5.
Malik Matthews took over from there and scored on the next play. Carl Roberson added the extra point to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead just two minutes into the game.
That was just the beginning.
Four plays later – following two runs for seven yards by Ty’Von Griffin and a 7-yard Pate Broussard-to-Jerry Dregin pass – Cougar defensive back Bryan Anderson stepped in front of a Broussard pass for an interception that he returned to the CHS 13-yard line.
After an incompletion, Noil took a handoff and raced to the end zone for another touchdown and a 14-0 lead midway through the quarter.
Then, following the Gents’ second punt of the quarter, Noil looked to be off to the races again, scoring on a 70-yard touchdown run. A holding penalty negated the play, but the Cougars got another big run from Matthews before quarterback Kerry Taylor connected with Joshua Peterson on a 49-yard touchdown strike.
The PAT pushed the lead to 21-0 with 3:45 left in the opening quarter.
The Cougars added another touchdown with just over four minutes to go in the second quarter on an 11-yard run by Noil to increase the lead to 28-0.
And, still, they weren’t done.
After forcing another Crowley punt with just over a minute remaining, the Cougars took over at their own 5-yard line.
Finally, a break for the Gents.
It took just 18 seconds for Noil to take a handoff on a draw play and outrun the entire CHS defense for a 95-yard touchdown.
And, then, just when the Gents thought things couldn’t get any worse, especially with just 18 seconds remaining in the half, they did.
Chris Lewis fumbled at the Gents’ 5-yard line and one play later, Taylor hit Kenneth Simmons in the end zone for the final touchdown of the half.
Just like that and it was 42-0!
Despite having the ball for just over seven minutes in the first half, the Cougars racked up 315 total yards, nine first downs and seven touchdowns.
“It was the big plays,” said Fontenot of Karr’s first half explosion. “That’s the thing: if you don’t hit them (Karr) right away, then they get going and we just don’t have the speed to keep up with them.”
Noil, a four-star recruit, accounted for 162 yards and three touchdowns on just six carries in the first half. He didn’t play in the second half.
“He (Noil) is good,” said Fontenot. “He can do anything. He can play quarterback, receiver, running back… And, God, he’s good at all of them.”
While Noil was doing his thing, Karr’s defense was at work limiting the Gents to 130 yards in the first half.
“What I was most impressed with was their defensive line,” said Fontenot. “They were controlling the line of scrimmage. They play very hard, they play well on their techniques. And those linebackers just make every play. They are just a phenomenal group.”
The Cougars added two more scores in the second half, the first just seconds into the third quarter when Peterson took the opening kickoff and raced 78 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 49-0.
The Gents were able to stop Karr on its next possession and force a 37-yard field goal attempt that was wide right.
However, the Cougars were able to post one more score early in the fourth quarter courtesy of another Crowley turnover.
With the Gents forced to punt from deep in their own territory, the snap was high and punter Andrew Simon was forced to try and run with the ball. He attempted a shuttle pass that was picked off by Leon Braxton and returned 22 yards for a touchdown.
The Gents were finally able to get on the board as time expired when Broussard connected with Terrell Thomas on a 9-yard touchdown strike. Simon’s extra point made the final score 55-7.
For the game, the Gents posted 189 yards of total offense and 11 first downs. They struggled to find consistency and failed to string anything together until that final drive of the game.
“We had some spots where we did some good things, but against these guys, you just can’t have a bad play,” said Fontenot. “You can’t be in a second-and-8 situation; you just have to have every play be perfect with them and we weren’t ready to do that yet.”
Fontenot said the loss wasn’t with some positives.
“We’re going to use this as a measuring stick,” he said. “We’re not where we need to be to win a state championship. We’re going to work hard to get there and you have to play the Karrs to figure out how it works.”
Broussard completed eight of 16 pass attempts on the night for 75 yards and one touchdown. He hit Thomas twice for 46 yards and a touchdown and Griffin had two receptions for 18 yards. Dregin also had a pair of catches for 12 yards.
Lewis led the Gents on the ground with 13 carries for 81 yards and Griffin had 18 carries for 51 yards.
Karr finished the night with 424 total yards and 13 first downs behind Noil’s impressive night at running back. Matthews added 89 yards and one touchdown on nine carries while Taylor completed 10 of 18 pass attempts for 160 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with Peterson twice for 63 yards and a touchdown while Simmons had three receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown.
The Gents finished the season with a record of 8-4, a far cry from last season’s 2-8 showing.
“I’m not focusing on tonight because tonight wasn’t what this season was about,” said Fontenot. “This season was very special for us and we did some good things this year. I will remember those things and we will take our younger kids and we’ll realize that this is what we need to be to win a 4A state championship so let’s go get there.
“You know, it’s over now (this year) and it’s always a sad thing when your season ends, but I think we have a lot to be proud of as a group and as a program.”
Fontenot credited his senior class for staying the course and sticking it out during trying times over the last two seasons.
“The seniors will always be remembered by me as the group that turned it around,” said Fontenot. “We preach change; we preach how to live your life differently and to work through adversity. And this group did it and they lived it and they are the ones that turned it around.
“I’m so proud of them. You can talk about our youth and how good it was all year, but without this senior leadership, none of that happens.”