It took a little while for Karr to get rolling against Belle Chasse on Friday night at Behrman Stadium.
But when the Cougars did, they took control, posting a 27-14 victory in a District 9-4A matchup.
“The key for us was that we were able to run the ball well,” said Karr coach Nathaniel Jones, whose team rushed for 232 yards.
It was the first district win for Karr (4-3, 1-1), a perennial Class 4A power.
Karr’s first possession ended with a 4-yard loss at the Belle Chasse 48 on fourth-and-6. The Cardinals (4-4, 0-3) then drove 52 yards in 10 plays, scoring on quarterback Andrew Hicks’ 8-yard run at 5:36 of the first quarter.
That seemed to wake up the Cougars. Karr came back behind running back Jurell Dunn and marched 72 yards in 11 plays, with Dunn scoring on a 15-yard run 3½ minutes later that brought the Cougars to 7-6.
Next came a play that turned the momentum in the Cougars’ favor. Karr defensive back Sam Mercadel recovered an onside kick at the Belle Chasse 47. Karr then drove 53 yards in seven plays, going ahead for good on sophomore quarterback Aldon Clark’s 5-yard pass to Rayce McMath, another sophomore.
“That was a big play for them, no doubt,” Belle Chasse coach Stephen Meyers said. “But we made too many mistakes and we had to play catchup, and that’s hard for us to do with our style of play.”
Dunn was just getting started. He gained 127 yards in the first half on 15 carries, powering the Cougars to a 21-7 halftime lead.
Clark and wide receiver Jerry Martin teamed on a big play, completing a 34-yard pass on third-and-34 down to the Cardinals 25. Five plays later, Nyjer Refuge scored on a 4-yard run.
The defense backed up Karr with five turnovers. Cornerback Kaycee Ntkogu intercepted two passes by Cardinals quarterback Andrew Paige, one coming before halftime at the Karr 5 with the Cougars clinging to their 21-7 lead. The second came at the Cougars’ 10 and was returned to the 30 with Karr again leading by two touchdowns at 27-14.
The Cougars came up with two of their three forced fumbles in the second half. Led by defensive backs Dandre Williams and Michael Conner, the Cougars repeatedly tried to rip the ball from the grasp of Cardinals ball-carriers in an effort to slow their running attack.
Belle Chasse gained 179 yards rushing, led by Javelle Anderson, who had 104 on 16 carries, including a 10-yard touchdown that cut Karr’s lead to the final margin with 35 seconds left in the third quarter. The Cougars kept in check the Cardinals’ main rushing threat, Hicks, who had 66 yards on 19 carries.
Belle Chasse gained just 4 yards on 2-of-7 passing, making a comeback difficult.
“We’d face running teams — we went against John Curtis — so we’d seen that and were ready for it,” Jones said.
The Cougars play McDonogh 35 next week.
For Belle Chasse, it was the end of a brutal stretch in which it played Warren Easton and Landry-Walker, who are unbeaten in 9-4A and tied for the district lead.