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Cougars open with big home win

By DANIEL EVANS

Daily News

Lafayette Christian (1-0) couldn’t have asked for a better way to start its first season in 11-man football.

On the first play from scrimmage Friday, quarterback Landon Whitley threw a 40-yard touchdown to Mitch Crandall, setting the tone for a big night.

Whitley had four total first-half touchdowns as Lafayette Christian held on late to defeat Central Fellowship Christian Academy 37-32.

“(Landon and Mitch) have been joined at the hip for four years and they work together really hard. We’ve tried to push the level of expectation really high in terms of how we form in practice, and I think that was a little pay off there,” said Lafayette Christian coach Nate Shaw of the first play. “We’re just pleased how it started. This is our 10thyear of football and … we aren’t ashamed at all of our eight-man tradition. We’re happy to be playing up in 11-man football, and it was just good to start off the season with a win and a region win.”

Whitley also ran for 50 and 25-yard rushing touchdowns and connected with Crandall on another 20-yard score.

Lafayette held a commanding 37-12 lead late in the third quarter, but had to hold on after three late scores by the Lancers.

Nathan Karvelas recovered an onside kick with 1:23 left to ice the game.

“I thought we did get a little fatigued at the end, but sometimes it’s hard to play with a lead,” Shaw said. “You have to learn to play with a lead. We didn’t play with a lead a lot last year.”

While the Cougars offense had plenty of highlights, it was the defense that flipped the script a game that started with four touchdowns in the first 11 minutes.

Central’s Landon Gallaher connected with Reggie Williams for touchdowns on the Lancers’ first two possessions — a leaping 11-yard touchdown catch and a 25-yard score where he ripped the ball away from nearby defenders — but that was it for Central Fellowship in the first half.

The Cougars held the Lancers scoreless on their next six possessions, thanks to timely sacks by Ben Dixon and WJ Bailey and an interception by Cameron Elliot.

“Regardless of the fact that we gave up 32 points, I thought we controlled the game defensively,” Shaw said.

Lafayette Christian scored only one time in the second half, a 42-yard touchdown run by Amani Jenkins, his second explosive run on the drive.

At that point, the game looked over.

The Cougars led by 25 with 2:27 left in the third quarter, but Williams gave the Lancers life by returning the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for his third touchdown of the night.

“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Shaw said of Williams.

Jonathan Warren scored on a 5-yard touchdown run with 6:43 left to pull the Lancers within 37- 24.

After a turnover on downs by the Cougars, Gallaher connected with Williams again, this

time for a 51-yard touchdown with 1:25 left.

Fortunately for the Cougars, the Lancers didn’t get the ball on offense again.

Karvelas recovered the onside kick and Whitley took a knee a couple of times to bleed the clock.

“We feel we beat a pretty talented ball club,” Shaw said. “It’s just good to get the year off with a win.”

The Cougars play at Georgia Christian next Friday night.

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