MONROE — Country Day quarterback Christian Kerut threw for more than 500 yards in the Cajuns’ first-round playoff game against Ouachita Christian — and even that was almost not enough.
It had an eerie similarity to Eli Manning’s six-touchdown performance in a loss to the New Orleans Saints earlier this month — but in the Division III first round playoff game Friday night in Monroe, No. 10 Country Day never led until its go-ahead touchdown with 20 seconds remaining to give the Cajuns the 42-35 lead and what proved to be the winning score.
After stopping No. 7 Ouachita Christian on the 2-yard line, following a failed reverse, Country Day marched 98 yards on seven plays — the final six of which came on completed passes by Kerut, who finished the night completing 31-of-46 passes with three touchdowns and one interception.
His final pass sailed to the back of the end zone and into the hands of McColl Simons, who had a hand on it, as well as an Eagles defender. After a few bobbles and hundreds of held breaths, Simons came down with the ball in the back right corner for the winning score.
“Coach just told me to give our receiver a shot at it,” Kerut said. “I just threw it, and he made the play. He made me look good. McColl was huge for us today.”
Simmons also had the first touchdown of the fourth quarter to close the game into one touchdown after the Cajuns entered the final frame down 28-14. Kerut, a three-sport athlete and a pitcher in baseball, sailed the ball 53 yards into his receiver’s hands to ignite the comeback.
McColl finished second on the team with 108 receiving yards, just behind fellow senior receiver Trey Harrell with 124 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown catch.
“I’ve been doing it a long time, and it’s never about me,” coach Joe Chango said. “It’s about the players, and our dudes fought their hearts out tonight. There was no quit in them They weren’t ready to stop playing football. They wanted to play another week.”
From the play-calling, Chango did too. After Friday night, he may challenge Les Miles for the Mad Hatter title.
The coach called for two onside kicks and a fake field goal during the game. Two of the three failed, but the onside kick in the fourth quarter proved to be the only trick play needed as his offense went to work.
And through all the tricks he threw out there, Chango said his heart did not stop beating once — even on the bobbled touchdown catch that ended up winning the game.
“His (heart) might have, but mine didn’t,” Chango said. “It was an awesome catch by McColl. He’s a team captain and has been a tremendous leader for us all year. I’m so happy he came up with a big play in a big situation for our football team. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Country Day kicked off to OCS with 13 seconds left in the game, but the Cajuns were not going to make this Friday the 13th one of horror for their fans.
After a 15-yard completion by Grant Fitzhugh, the Country Day defense swarmed with 6 seconds left denying the quarterback any chance at the end zone.