LAFAYETTE - Karr High avoided the obvious and chose the unexpected Friday night on its final offensive play.
Instead of throwing to reliable tight end Standish Dobbard, Karr threw instead a designed play for wide receiver Jarrell Bennett.
Bennett’s 12-yard reception from quarterback Devante Noil gave Karr the final touchdown with 21 seconds left and a 35-31 victory over St. Thomas More in a Class 4A quarterfinal playoff game at STM’s Cougar Stadium.
Dobbard had previously made all the clutch catches for Noil, a sophomore, who threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns, so KHS coach Jabbar Juluke said they crafted something different from the sideline.
“We knew (STM) would be looking for our tight end, so we went with another play. Bennett did a super job on the route, and Noil put it in there,” Juluke said.
The Karr touchdown ended a 78-yard drive that began with a minute and 29 seconds left.
Although Karr took the lead, STM staged a near comeback in the final seconds after John Juneau returned the kickoff to the Karr 26 with 10 seconds left.
The game had apparently ended when Karr’s Elcee Refuge intercepted STM quarterback Brandon Bergeron in the end zone, but penalties on both teams gave STM a final chance.
This time, Bergeron’s pass again from the 26, fell incomplete in the end zone, ending the season for No. 2-seeded STM (11-2). Karr, seeded seventh, improved to 10-3 and hosts Lutcher in a 4A semifinal next week.
STM coach Jim Hightower said Karr made the key plays when necessary, especially at the end.
“I really don’t have much to say,” Hightower said. “It turned out to be a game of big plays, and they made more than we did, including the last one.
“Karr scored a couple of touchdowns off our turnovers, and throughout the game, we allowed (Karr) to do too many things to hurt us. They have a lot of great athletes, and they are a very good team.”
STM trailed 28-21 at halftime, but the Cougars worked their way back into the game in the third period.
Don Oliver kicked his third field goal in as many tries with 7:09 left in the third period to chop Karr’s lead to 28-24. The three points ended STM’s opening drive of the second half.
On its next series, STM took its first lead of the game at 31-28 after defensive back Andrew Primeaux returned a Noil fumble to the Karr 3.
On the first play of the drive, STM’s Matt Flores bolted over and the home team led 31-28 with 3:30 to go in the third period.
“We figured they (STM) were too good of a team not to come back in the third quarter, and they did,” Juluke said. “We just hung on the rest of the game, and then we were able to win it at the end. We played 48 minutes, and that’s what it took to beat such a good team.”
STM scored on a 31 pass from Bergeron to Flores with 28 seconds remaining that cut Karr’s lead to 28-21 before the intermission.
Bergeron led STM 66 yards down the field for the TD with five straight completions, two of those caught by Stevenson.
Before that Karr scored a pair of unanswered second-quarter touchdowns during a four-minute span of the to lead 28-13 with 2:18 remaining.
Karr broke in front 14-6 after Noil ended a 90-yard drive with a 16-yard scoring run (10:20).
That lead was cut to a point 12 seconds later when STM running back John Juneau broke into the Karr secondary on an 80-yard TD run.
A fumble recovery by Karr’s Melvin Davis at the STM 36 led to another touchdown four minutes and 38 seconds later.
Noil completed all three of his passing attempts on the drive. The touchdown throw went to wide receiver Terrance Howard over the middle. Carl Roberson’s third consecutive point after kick made it 21-13.
Karr seemed to take control late in the second quarter on a 53-yard march that took eight plays. Noil completed two of his three passes for 27 yards and then ran for 17 more to the STM 1.
From that point, Karr scored on a 1-yard Rasheed Davis run.