DeRidder was threatening to make a game of it as the first half ended. However, that’s when the Karr Cougars blew things open.
With quarterback Aldon Clark passing for 126 yards and three touchdowns in the second half, Karr sprinted to a 56-20 Class 5A bidistrict playoff victory Saturday at Behrman Stadium.
The Cougars (6-4), a No. 14 seed, travel to play No. 3 Cecilia in next week’s regional round.
“The tempo was good in the first half, but we decided to open things up,” Karr first-year coach Bryce Brown said. “We thought we could help our defense a lot if we kept scoring, so we started passing the ball. Aldon did a phenomenal job.”
Karr got serious about distancing itself from DeRidder (7-4) because of Dragons 6-foot-2, 250-pound running back Daniel Crosley, who finished with 261 yards and three touchdowns on 40 carries. He had 163 yards and a score in the first half to single-handedly give DeRidder a chance.
However, Clark, a junior in his second game back from a knee injury, completed two 11-yard touchdown passes to Warren Newman around a 24-yard scoring pass to Tyrin Ralph in an explosive third quarter that produced a 49-20 lead. Three DeRidder fumbles fueled the avalanche.
DeRidder coach Brad Parmley said a rougher-the-kicker penalty at 10:14 of the third quarter started his team’s demise.
“We had stopped them, and then we get that,” he said. “You can’t give a team like Karr a second chance like that, and they took advantage of it. It all went down hill after that.”
That gave the Cougars first down at the DeRidder 40. They later ended a 16-play, 78-yard drive with Clark’s first touchdown pass to Newman. The floodgates were open.
The Cougars took a 28-13 halftime lead despite 217 yards rushing by the Dragons, with Crosley getting 163 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. However, he was nearly all DeRidder’s offense. DeRidder attempted one pass, which fell incomplete.
Karr had a much more balanced offense, with running back Tyrik Luckett rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown, and Clark completing seven of 11 passes for 89 yards. Jailen Bell had a 13-yard touchdown and Trevor Morgan one for 5 yards.
A defensive play, however, got the Cougars going. On the second play from scrimmage, Crosley bulled for 5 yards, but the ball was knocked loose from behind. Defensive back Kevin Tyler caught the ball out of the air, cut left and ran 30 yards for a touchdown.
Crosley, who also has been an all-state defensive lineman the past two years, broke loose on the next series for a 50-yard run to the Karr 22. He ended the drive his with a 2-yard scoring run.
Karr later had drives of five plays, 68 yards that ended in Ralph’s 13-yard touchdown run at 1:57 of the first and 90 yards, ending in a 2-yard scoring run by Morgan three minutes into the second quarter.
When Luckett scored on a 2-yard run at 7:23 left, capping a four-play, 48-yard drive after a 20-yard DeRidder punt, Karr appeared on its way to a rout. However, Crosley willed his team to a touchdown with 1:24 before halftime, getting all but 9 yards in an 11-play, 76-yard drive that ended in his 1-yard plunge.
That brought the score to 28-13. More important, it seemed to bring hope.