LaGrange loses to reigning state champions in the second round of the state playoffs

Published 10:15 pm Friday, November 17, 2023

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LaGrange hit the road for the second round of the playoffs on Friday, and the Grangers were dominated by two-time defending state champions Benedictine Military School 31-7. 

After a strong start to the first half, the Grangers struggled with penalties and turnovers for the rest of the game. 

LaGrange forced a three-and-out to start the game. The Grangers came out with momentum on offense. Malachi Fannin-Render broke off a 36-yard run on LaGrange’s first possession. A missed 45-yard field goal kept the Grangers off the board early on. 

After forcing another punt, Malik Kemp connected with Jonathan Keys on a halfback screen that Keys took for the 21-yard touchdown. After the extra point, LaGrange held a 7-0 late in the first quarter. 

Benedictine struck back on the next play from scrimmage as Luke Kromenhoek found Bryce Baker on a 60-yard touchdown pass. The extra point tied the game at seven with 54 seconds left in the first quarter. 

It was all Cadets from then on. A 40-yard field goal on Benedictine’s next offensive drive gave the Cadets a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. 

The next offensive drive was a disaster for LaGrange as Kemp was sacked and stripped at midfield. Baker then broke away for his second touchdown of the night on a 30-yard rush. The extra point gave Benedictine a 17-7 lead with 5:35 left in the second quarter. 

Turnovers continued to haunt the Grangers as Kemp’s pass was intercepted at midfield on the ensuing drive. One play later, Na’seir Samuel rushed for a 46-yard touchdown. The Cadets took a 24-7 lead late in the second quarter after the extra point. 

Benedictine had one more shot to score before the end of the first half, but the 52-yard field goal attempt fell short. 

The first drive of the first half continued the disasters of the first half as Kemp’s pass was intercepted by the Cadets and returned 65 yards for the touchdown. After the extra point, Benedictine held a 31-7 lead early in the third quarter. 

LaGrange had two more opportunities to get back into the game late. Parker Shattuck set the Grangers up in plus field position after picking up 23 yards on a fake punt, but the Grangers turned the ball over on downs four plays later. 

The Grangers again found themselves near the end zone late in the fourth quarter. A penalty wiped off a would-be touchdown on third down. Then, on fourth down the Grangers were stuffed at the seven-yard line. 

LaGrange finished with a 9-3 record on the season. Benedictine is on to the next round as the Cadets search for a third straight state title.