Lafayette Christian sees season end in low-scoring 12-2 defeat to Central Christian

Published 12:03 am Saturday, November 4, 2023

Eight-man football games are typically up and down the field, fast-paced games where both teams light up the scoreboard.

Friday night’s Lafayette Christian-Central Christian playoff game was far from that, with both offenses struggling through a penalty and turnover-plagued night that stymied both teams.

The Cougars saw their season end in a 12-2 defeat, ending hopes of a deep playoff run before it ever really started.

It didn’t help that LCS also lost its senior leader, Ephraim Snyder to a potential collarbone injury in the first quarter, taking away the Cougars ability to hand the ball off and let him move the chains. For much of his career, he’s been the workhorse that made the Lafayette Christian offense go.

“It’s everything,” said LCS head coach Jarred Pike of Ephraim’s injury. “It definitely affected the play calling and things we do, and the offense.”

Snyder’s absence showed throughout the night with the Cougars unable to get the running game going, especially inside the red zone. Pike thought it also impacted the team emotionally since Snyder is such a big part of the team’s success.

“Seeing your guy go down, I don’t see how that can’t affect you at this age,” Pike said.

The Cougars actually scored first after back-to-back fumbles by both teams on their opening possession of the game. Lafayette Christian went for it on a fourth-and-goal and a wide open receiver dropped the ball, turning it over on downs.

The Crusaders went three-and-out and the ensuing punt went sailing well over the punter’s head and through the back of the end zone for a safety. Lafayette Christian led 2-0 at that point, and for a while, it looked like that might be the score all night long.

Early in the second quarter, the Crusaders put together their best drive of the night, reaching the LCS 7 yard line. However, three consecutive penalties — an illegal shift, intentional grounding and a holding call — moved the ball back to the LCS 26-yard line.

On a fourth down, the Crusaders threw a 25-yard pass, coming up one yard short of a touchdown and turning the ball over on downs.

The Cougars were unable to move the ball and had to punt it right back to the Crusaders. Central Christian moved the ball as far as the LCS 17, and on fourth and goal they elected for a field goal.

The Cougars blocked it, almost right off the ground, and again preserved the 2-0 lead with 6:42 remaining in the second quarter.

For a while, it felt like neither team would score a touchdown, but the entire game got flipped on its head in the final seconds of the first half.  Lafayette Christian looked like it might have a double-digit lead at the break, but within seconds found itself down double digits.

A deep pass from David Karvelas to Brandon Davenport on second-and-17 moved the Cougars into Crusader territory in the closing minutes of the half.

The drive advanced all the way to the Crusader 1, thanks in part to a defensive pass interference call.

On second and goal, the Cougars handed it off and got stuffed.

On the next play, LCS called a pass and David Karvelas was picked off. The Crusaders ran the ball back to the 32-yard line, plus a personal foul on LCS added another 15 yards.

On the second play from scrimmage, the Crusaders threw a quick pass and ran 17 yards for a touchdown to make it 6-2 with 49 seconds left in the second quarter.

However, things got much worse for the Cougars before the half.

On the first play after the touchdown, a bad snap by the Cougars was recovered by Central Christian. A couple of plays later another passing touchdown made the score 12-2 Crusaders with 15 seconds left in the half. Central Christian failed on both of its two-point tries.

Though both teams had good scoring opportunities in the second half, the final minute of the first half determined the outcome.

LCS moved the ball all the way to the Central Christian 16 in the third quarter, but third and fourth down passes were incomplete, ending the drive.

Even after the turnover on downs, the Cougars defense held, keeping the Crusaders deep in their own territory and forcing a punt. LCS blocked the punt, giving the Cougars new life at the Central 17-yard line. On the very next play, Karvelas was intercepted in the end zone. He was rushed on the play, had to run backward and threw the ball up for grabs.

Even in the fourth quarter, the Cougars defense gave themselves a chance. An interception on a Central Christian screen pass gave LCS the ball again, this time around midfield.

Following the interception, Karvelas had a huge first down run on the ensuing drive but was called for two personal fouls after the play, moving the ball back 30 yards, negating the gained yardage and setting up first-and-40.

On the first play after those penalties, the Cougars appeared to strike for a long completion near the first down marker, but the ball came out late. The officials called it an incomplete pass rather than a completed pass and a fumble recovered by the Cougars. Needing 40 yards, the drive stalled and LCS punted.

In the final minutes, a Cougars fumble deep in Crusader territory ended any chances of a comeback. Central Christian ran out the clock, pulling off the first round upset.