A court ruling 70 minutes before kickoff gave the Capitol Lions nine extra players for their season-opening Downtown Showdown against rival McKinley High.
But the extra bodies weren’t enough to prevent the Panthers winning, 52-6, in a scrappy game that lasted 2:45 and featured 269 combined penalty yards.
McKinley has now won back-to-back games in the series for the first time since 1980-81.
The Panthers were led by Phil Randall, who rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
Tyrone Scott added another 66 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
“We played well enough but we didn’t show enough discipline,” said McKinley head coach Robert Signater, Jr., whose team accounted for 145 of the 269 penalty yards. “We had far too many penalties, and you can’t play big time ball like that.”
Capitol gained just eight yards rushing as a team, but quarterback Darren Clark was 8-for-15 for 126 yards and one touchdown, a 64-yard first-quarter strike to Travis Hebert.
The Lions were facing the prospect of starting the season with just 17 players after a Louisiana High School Athletic Association hardship committee denied Capitol’s request for eligibility for the players, who re-enrolled in the fall after transferring to other schools. However, a judge granted a temporary restraining order before kickoff, allowing the players to suit up for the Lions.
“We’ve been through a lot in the last 48 hours,” said Capitol head coach Damieon Mills, who leaned heavily on all nine players despite them not having practiced with the team. “Our kids came out and played hard against a good McKinley team tonight.”
Clark lost fumble on first snap of game, giving McKinley the ball in prime position early. Aided by a pair of Capitol penalties, McKinley needed just two plays to score and took an early lead when Randall rushed in from three yards out.
Capitol scored on its next drive when Clark hit Hebert sprinting down the left sideline for a 64-yard score. That made it 8-6 on the scoreboard. It would be the last time the Lions would reach the end zone.
McKinley blocked Javonta Rogers’ punt at the 22-yard line, setting the Panthers up with a short drive to the end zone.
A handful of rushing plays was all it took for McKinley to stretch its lead, with a 5-yard rush by Scott giving the Panthers a 15-6 edge late in the first quarter.
McKinley extended its lead to 21-6 midway through the second period on a 6-yard run by Brandon Butler, then tacked on six more points just two minutes later when Cody Swain returned a punt 59 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown.
Scott picked up his second touchdown of the night on a two-yard run off the right tackle midway through the third quarter. Things only got worse from there for the Lions as Jarmar Robertson fumbled the ball on the kickoff, and Butler scooped it up and ran it in for a touchdown from 10 yards out.
The Panthers added another touchdown late in the third quarter when Randall rushed right up the middle of an exhausted Lions defense for a 16-yard score.
Second-string quarterback Travion Alexander finished the scoring with a two-yard rushing touchdown right up the middle midway through the fourth quarter.