Karr lost its season opener on the final play last week.
The Cougars weren’t about to let this one slip away, especially against rival St. Augustine.
Senior linebacker Albert McCaleb intercepted a pass with 1:04 left to seal the Cougars’ 25-19 victory over the Purple Knights at Tad Gormley Stadium.
“I just read the quarterback’s eyes,” McCaleb said. “We had to have this win. We felt like we should’ve won last week against St. Paul’s. We had to have this one.”
The game may have lacked the star power of last year’s epic battle that included five-star recruits like Leonard Fournette, Speedy Noil and Gerald Willis.
But it didn’t lack the excitement, despite a slew of turnovers by both teams.
“It’s a situation where we are learning week to week,” said second-year Karr coach Nathaniel Jones, whose team plays John Curtis in two weeks. “We have to get better from week to week. This is a Karr team that is going to play hard and play with pride. I keep preaching that.”
Jones improved to 2-0 against St. Aug after last year’s 33-24 victory.
Karr , ranked No. 10 in The New Orleans Advocate’s Large School Super 10, improved to 1-1 heading into an open date.
“They made the plays, and we didn’t,” said St. Aug coach Cyril Crutchfield. “We just have to regroup and get ready for work.”
While McCaleb’s game-clinching pick sealed the win, it was an interception at the end of the first half that proved to be just as pivotal.
With the game tied 6-6 and time winding down in the first half, St. Augustine went to its bag of tricks but it backfired.
The Purple Knights tried a double reverse pass, but Michael Conner picked it off and raced 77 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the half.
Conner’s touchdown gave Karr a 12-6 halftime lead, despite rushing for just 1 yard on 13 carries in the first half.
Aldon Clark, who had a 1-yard touchdown run in the first half, completed 7 of 12 passes for 85 yards in the first half for the Cougars.
It was the St. Aug defense that produced the first points of the second half. Tyrus Halley hit Karr quarterback Aldon Clark to force a fumble that was recovered in the end zone by Yusef Scipio to tie it. It was the second big play for Scipio, who also had an interception in the game.
Karr responded right away on its next possession.
Jurell Dunn burst through the middle for a 58-yard run.
But St. Aug tied it again in the fourth quarter when McCoy connected with Jamal Pettigrew for a 10-yard score.
Karr took the lead for good on Dejon Richardson’s 2-yard run with 5:04 left, leaving it in the hands of the Karr defense.
“They made big plays, and that’s what we expect,” Jones said. “I think the jamboree and the St. Paul’s game made the guys on defense want to come out here and put the load of the burden on their shoulders. Now when it comes back for them to be on the field last, they can show what they’re about.”
There was a 20-minute delay with 8:47 left in the first quarter when Karr senior linebacker Dandre Williams had to be carried off the field on a stretcher, but Jones said after the game that Williams is fine.
School officials said after the game that Williams had a CAT scan done and is fine.
The Purple Knights played without Lanard Fournette, who scored three touchdowns in last week’s come-from-behind victory over McDonogh 35 before suffering a sprained ankle late in the game.
Junior Darryl Landry picked up the slack. Landry finished with 187 yards, but it wasn’t enough.
“Stanley (Morgan) is banged up a little too, but we don’t make any excuses,” Crutchfield said. “They made the plays.”