Cougars top Praise Academy behind late rally

Published 11:15 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

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Lafayette Christian went on the road and went to war with reigning GAPPS Division A — a division lower than the Cougars — state champions Praise Academy. The Cougars came away with a 22-16 win.

“It was a real gutsy performance from our guys to fight through some adversity on the road and not sit there and whine and complain about the refs,” LCS coach Jarred Pike said. “We kept playing hard.”

Surprisingly for 8-man football, it was a true defensive slugfest. 

Praise was able to take an early 8-0 lead in the game, but the Cougars struck back quickly when David Karvelas hit Bruno Tellez for an 18-yard touchdown but could not convert the two-point conversion to tie the game.

“We didn’t expect much from [Tellez] coming out because he had never played football before,” Pike said. “He works hard, and he has become a reliable guy to go to.”

The game was locked at 8-6 for the majority of the second quarter until the Cougars took their first lead of the game when Karvelas ran the ball into the end zone from 7 yards out. The Cougars converted the two-point conversion to take a 14-8 lead with 23 seconds left in the first half.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, they left too much time on the clock and Praise retook the lead right before halftime, 16-14.

“We just have to tackle it, it is as simple as that,” Piek said. “The kids were fast, but we were trying to tackle around the head and neck and slipped right off. We told them to tackle low.”

The defenses continued to dominate well into the second half. It was the Cougar’s defense that made the decisive play of the game when they stopped Praise Academy at the half-yard in the fourth quarter. 

“The defense kept us in it,” Pike said. “Offense was unable to score, but our defense kept us in it, which they have been doing all season for us.”

The Cougars offense then promptly marched it down the field 99.5 yards and found the end zone for the pivotal score when Ephraim Snyder plunged into the end zone from two yards out. The successful two-point conversion made it 22-16 Cougars with 5:42 left in the game. 

The defense came through again in the fourth, fixing a turnover on downs that all but ended the game as the Cougars for the ball back, got a first and knee it out from there.

The Cougars had to overcome some penalty issues in the game as the team had over 90 yards of holding penalties and had multiple touchdowns wiped off the board.

“We scored three or four touchdowns, but they all got called back because of holding,” Pike said.

Lafayette Christian (7-1) heads into its regular-season finale next week against reigning state champions Sherwood with a postseason berth already clinched. A win at home next Friday will give the Cougars the region championship.

“They are a big team, a physical team, but this is what we are here for,” Pike said. “We have wanted this game all season and now we have it.”