Making the trip across the Crescent City Connection from Algiers to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in December seems almost like a given for Edna Karr.
But the Cougars almost ran into an unexpected road block Friday.
Skyler Perry connected with Anthony Spurlock for a 54-yard touchdown pass with 2:23 left to rescue No. 1 Karr, which escaped with a thrilling 40-35 victory over No. 16 Carver.
"Skyler just put the ball on the money," Spurlock said. "That was a helluva throw by Skyler. I saw it, and I knew I had to get it. It's the playoffs, so you have to make plays now. We were down and we had to get back on top. We want to go out with a bang."
It was the ninth straight win for the Cougars (11-1), who found themselves celebrating this hard-fought Class 4A nonselect second-round victory as if it was their second straight state title. They move a step closer to a repeat, advancing to the quarterfinals to host No. 8 Northwood-Shreveport, which beat Salmen 47-6.
Perry finished with four touchdown passes, none bigger than the final one. It came just one play after the Cougars' defense forced the Rams to punt.
"Our mindset never changes, whether we are down or not," said Spurlock, who had two touchdown receptions. "Our coaches tell us to fight until the end, and that's what we did tonight."
It was enough to offset a stellar night by Carver quarterback Izea Hurst, who gave the Cougars fits. Hurst ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more for the Rams (7-4).
"Those boys from the Ninth Ward got some respect tonight," Karr coach Brice Brown said. "They came out and played lights out. Hats off to Carver."
It was Karr's second win of the season over Carver. The Cougars rolled to a 35-7 victory during the regular season at Joe Brown Stadium.
The Cougars looked to be well on their way to rolling to another convincing win when they sprinted out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Karr scored the first two times it touched the ball, first on Ronnie Jackson's 10-yard run and then when Perry connected with Jahaii Howard. Less than a minute later, the Karr defense got in on the scoring when Jamier Jackson scooped up a fumble on a bad snap and scored from 8 yards out.
But the Rams wouldn't go away.
In fact, they scored 28 unanswered points.
Gary Young, who has verbally committed to Southern, got things started. He showed off his blazing speed on the ensuing kickoff with an 83-yard return that breathed life into the Rams.
Then Hurst went to work, scoring first on a 3-yard run and then throwing a 7-yard strike to Lynarise Elpheage Jr. to tie it 21-21 midway through the second quarter.
Hurst accounted for 154 yards in the first half and finished 16-of-33 passing for 203 yards. But it wasn't enough.
"My guys came out, fought hard and did what we asked them to do," Carver coach Byron Addison said. "We just came up short in the end. We fought hard, but we just couldn't finish them off. It lets people know that we are trying to bring Carver back to where we used to be."
The teams went back and forth in the second half.
Perry completed 10 of 15 passes for 178 yards to lead the Cougars, who are looking to make their seventh trip to the Dome in the past eight years after winning it all in 2016.
"You've gotta be able to knock that bull's-eye off, and you have to be able to have tunnel vision," Brown said.