De La Salle’s historic season came to a screeching halt thanks to the arm of Cole Kelley.
No. 6 Teurlings Catholic relied on its prolific offense and stingy second-half defense to upend No. 3 De La Salle 36-14 in the Division II state quarterfinals at Pan American Stadium on Friday night.
Kelley rolled his ankle in the second quarter, but that didn’t impact his arm at all. The hobbled Arkansas commitment was able to make his mark against the De La Salle defense by throwing for 264 yards and four touchdowns covering 9, 7, 46 and 53 yards. He led the Rebels (9-3) to four unanswered scoring drives from the second quarter on.
Teurlings Catholic will return to state semifinals for the first time since 2010 and play crosstown rival, No. 2 St. Thomas More.
“It’s awesome,” Kelley said, “but obviously I didn’t join football to play in the semifinals. We’re playing our rivals, St. Thomas More, and that’s big time. But we don’t settle for the semifinals. We’re trying to get to the Dome and win it.”
Early on, the tilt had the makings of a shootout.
Kelley directed two scoring drives in the first quarter, then helped the Rebels begin to separate with 22 unanswered points.
Kelley admitted his offense was capable of doing just about anything Friday night.
“We could do a lot of the things we wanted to do,” he said. “I give credit to our coaching staff. They preach to keep playing no matter what happens. They got a big play on us and scored to start off the game, then we came back and answered. That’s what you got to do — keep playing.”
While the Teurlings Catholic offense may receive much of the credit, the defense also came through with a noteworthy performance.
After surrendering 14 points in the opening quarter, the Teurlings Catholic defense rebounded to post a shutout over the final three frames, sealed by a Luke Mahne interception midway through the fourth quarter.
Five times, De La Salle marched into the red zone, and the Rebels defense held. In the second half, Teurlings Catholic limited the home team to just 109 yards of total offense
“It was a wild game,” De La Salle coach Ryan Manale said. “We didn’t execute. We moved the ball but didn’t get enough done inside the red zone. It just wasn’t meant to be tonight. We’ll build from it and be a better football team next year.”
The Cavaliers (9-2) scored first — on a 50-yard run from Quincy Cage — and posted 14 first-quarter points. However, they were blanked over the final three quarters.
Penalties (16 for 153) dug De La Salle into a hole that offense unable to escape, leading the team to its second loss in a row and ending what was a historic season.
This year, De La Salle surpassed the 1969 team for the best start in school history (9-0). Unlike that ’69 squad, these Cavaliers were unable to advance to the semifinals.
“The penalties were uncharacteristic of our football team,” Manale said. “That’s not who we are or what we’re about. Penalties got the best of us. I knew the more detailed, disciplined team would win this game. They win more detailed and more disciplined.”