With one historic win under their belts, the Lafayette Christian School Cougars will try to keep the good times rolling tonight.
Last week, the Cougars earned a dramatic 39-38 victory over Praise Academy, giving them the first playoff win in school history.
Now, the Cougars will try to make it two in a row when they visit Harvester Christian today for a second-round game in the Independent Christian Schools of Georgia and Alabama eight-man state playoffs.
The winner will advance to next week’s championship game in Columbus.
The Cougars reached this point with a scintillating victory over Praise last week at home.
The Cougars were trailing late, but they drove down the field and scored a touchdown and converted the extra point to take the lead.
The Cougars then made a defensive stand as time ran out to preserve the victory.
“It was our biggest step we’ve ever made,” said junior quarterback Matt Brown. “We’ve never won a playoff game. It was big.”
How the Cougars did it was particularly impressive.
After Grace scored a touchdown and converted the two-point conversion, the Cougars found themselves in a 38-32 hole with a little more than seven minutes remaining.
The Cougars were pinned deep in their own territory when Brown completed a long pass to Sam Marshall.
That play came with the Cougars facing a second-and-30.
“I was just hoping I could throw it good, and I was hoping he could catch one,” Brown said.
That play set up a Brown touchdown run, and Jeremy Fain made the all-important extra point to put the Cougars on top by one.
With 1:43 still on the clock, Praise had plenty of time to work with.
Praise moved the ball down the field, and with less than 10 seconds remaining, it found itself on the Lafayette Christian 6-yard line.
Praise went with a running play, and when the running back was stopped at the 2-yard line, the clock ran out, and the Cougars had the win.
“They called their last timeout, and they ran it off-tackle, and coach (Nate) Shaw made a good adjustment,” Lafayette Christian head coach Nick Nehring said. “And the guys stepped up and made the play. Matt (Brown) was there, and Graham Oliver our other linebacker stepped up, and they both just brought him down at the 2-yard line.”
After helping the Cougars take the lead, Marshall was pulling hard for the defense to make a play.
“I was just glad our defense could hold them,” Marshall said. “I got kind of scared there at the end, but they got the job done.”
Trey Kirkland and Brown each had two touchdown runs, and Graham Oliver also had a scoring run.
Nehring said also Shaw and Glenn Quiggle, the two assistant coaches, made huge contributions.
“I really appreciate them,” Nehring said.
Next up for the Cougars is a familiar foe.
In the final game of the regular season, Harvester beat Lafayette Christian 35-0.
It was a close game at the half, but Harvester pulled away in the second half.
“I don’t really know what happened last time we played them,” Marshall said. “We just have to have the mindset that we can win this game.”
Part of the Cougars’ problem was that they played Harvester without Brown, who makes the offense go.
Brown is back and ready to go for tonight’s game.
“I can’t wait to play them,” Brown said.
Nehring said the players are embracing this chance.
“We’re ready to go,” Nehring said. “It’s a great opportunity. They’re excited.”