It was a win more than a decade in the making for Erath and for Bobcats coach Eric Leblanc it was also a sign that his team was capable of bouncing back after a pair of poor performances over the past two weeks.
Led by two scores from quarterback Luke Leblanc and a defense that outside of one long run contained a very powerful running game, Erath topped Kaplan 20-12 Friday evening.
Editor's note: This file will be updated throughout the weekend as scores, stats and stories are submitted.
“We showed up and we played Erath football tonight and I was proud of those guys” Leblanc said, “When you turn around and get something like this done against a very good coached Kaplan team, it's good to see.”
The game which was a quick-moving contest, taking just a tad over two hours to complete saw the Erath defense clampdown after the first Kaplan possession of the night.
Erath (3-3, 1-0) took the opening kickoff and proceeded the march the football down the field in 11 plays but were unable to cash in after the Kaplan defense forced a turnover on downs. From there it took the Pirates offense just plays to find pay dirt.
On third down Kaplan (2-4, 0-1) running back Drake LeJeune took a handoff from quarterback Mason Frick and proceed to sweep around the left side, scampering 75 yards for a touchdown, giving the Pirates a 6-0 lead.
The 75-yard run accounted for more than half of the Pirates rushing total. As a team, Kapan finished with 149 yards on 34 carries, 4.38 yards per attempt. But if you take out the long run the Bobcats defense limited the Wing-T Kaplan offense to just 2.24 yards per rush.
Lejeune finished the evening with 106 yards on 12 carries.
“We had a bust on that one long run and we fixed it, they tried to come back to it probably every drive and we kept stoning them up, it was good work by our guys.” Coach Leblanc said.
Immediately following the Kaplan score, the Erath offense answered. A quick four-play, 52-yard drive which was capped off with quarterback Luke Leblanc’s 14-yard run tied the game at 6-6. But just seven plays after the Erath score, Kaplan pulled ahead when Frick snuck the ball in from the 1-yard line. The short-run gave Kaplan a 12-6 lead.
But it was at the point after three consecutive scoring drives that both defenses took over. Over the next six series, not counting a kneel situation to end the half, the two teams combined to punt four times and turn the ball over on downs twice.
Then as the third quarter was nearing an end, Erath, again starting in great field position found the end zone. The Bobcats needed just four plays to go 36 yards thanks to another 14-yard touchdown run by quarterback Luke Leblanc. The extra point was good as Erath found itself on top 13-12, the Bobcats first lead of the night.
Following another exchange of punts, the Bobcats had possession of the ball needing to burn off the final 4:33, holding on to a one-point lead. With 1:44 to play a 27-yard touchdown run by Curtis Cormier pushed the Erath lead to 20-12.
One play later, following the kickoff, senior corner Andrew Evans sealed the victory by intercepting a pass from Kaplan’s Frick.
“Those guys are thought well, they're fast, they're physical and they're tough,” coach Leblanc said of Kaplan, “and I think we matched the intensity tonight.”
Erath racked up 312 total yards of offense, led by 133 yards on the ground from Luke Leblanc. As a passer, he finished 9-16 for 90 yards.