De La Salle was the only blemish on Karr's 14-1 march to its second consecutive Class 4A state championship last season.
The Cavaliers won't be a blemish this season. The Cougars made sure of that Friday night, jumping on De La Salle for an early three-touchdown lead on the way to a 34-7 victory at Behrman Stadium.
Karr (3-0), No. 4 in the Advocate's Large Schools Super 10 rankings, won its 15th consecutive game since that loss to De La Salle. De La Salle, No. 1 in the Small Schools rankings, lost its second consecutive game after falling to St. Augustine last week.
“It was not about revenge,” Karr coach Bryce Brown said. “Last year was last year. This is a new team, and we did pretty well. We have to clean up our post-snap penalties.”
Karr quarterback Leonard Kelly, a former De La Salle player, completed 12 of 14 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. However, the Cougars defense dominated, holding De La Salle to 68 yards rushing and 81 yards total offense.
Said Cavaliers coach Ryan Manale: “We knew we'd have a big challenge running the ball. We had some wrinkles that we thought we could break for big yards, but we we 0-for.”
Kelly came out firing, completing 8 of 9 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Ahmad Antoine had just two carries but scored on runs of 2 and 6 yards.
Karr's defense played a major role, holding the Cavaliers to 31 yards in the first half, including 23 rushing.
Kelly had an 18-yard completion to Larry Junior and a 21-yard scramble to the 2-yard line on the Cougars' first possession, which ended with Antoine's 2-yard touchdown. Karr came right back, with Kelly completing a 43-yard pass to Khalfani Simmons to the 5. Kelly came right back to Simmons on the next play for the touchdown.
The Cougars took a 21-0 lead on its first possession of the second quarter, going 52 yards in five plays to Antoine's second touchdown.
Karr sealed the victory with two touchdowns in the third quarter. Kelly ended a 55-yard, four-play drive with a 26-yard pass to Daylin Hill on the Cougars' first possession of the second half.
The final touchdown belonged to the defense. With 3:35 left in the third, Cavaliers quarterback Fisher Rojas was sacked and fumbled at the Karr 42. Linebacker Joshua Randall scooped up the loose ball, broke a tackle and dashed 58 yards to the score.
De La Salle got its touchdown with 2:01 left in the game on a 3-yard run by Kendall Collins Jr. It came two plays after Montrell Johnson ran 34 yards to the 4.
“I'm really proud of our team's mental toughness,” said Brown, whose team was coming off a 40-0 thrashing of Landry-Walker. “Because of the storm warnings, we only had two days to practice. The kids were focused. They got it done.”