Cecilia wanted to come in and force Landry-Walker to play an ugly game — and they did just that for three quarters.
But once the fourth quarter began, the No. 6 Charging Buccaneers (9-2) cleaned up their mistakes and ran away with a 38-29 victory over the No. 27 Bulldogs (4-7) at Behrman Stadium on a frigid Thursday night in the bidistrict round of the Class 4A playoffs.
Landry-Walker will play in the second round against the winner of No. 11 LaGrange/ No. 22 Fair Park.
Both teams struggled to sustain any offensive success in a sloppy third quarter, with the first six combined drives of the half ending in either a punt or a turnover on downs.
Sophomore quarterback Keytaon Thompson, who went without a completion for the entire third quarter, threw a strike to tight end Mikhail Jacobs for 51 yards on his first throw of the fourth quarter. Seven plays later, Javon Conner ran in from 5 yards out to extend the Landry-Walker lead to 26-15.
The Charging Bucs defense forced two ugly possessions from the Bulldogs on their ensuing possessions, and running back Javon Conner and Thompson quickly made Cecilia pay with touchdown runs of 23 and 20 yards.
Conner, who started at running back in place of an injured Tevin Bush (ankle), finished the game with 14 carries for 130 yards and three touchdowns.
“This is what Landry-Walker football is all about,” Conner said. “We started off slow, but my teammates played their hearts out. This is my senior year, and I’m just trying to help my team leave with a ring.”
Cecilia finished valiantly, scoring two touchdowns and recovering an onside kick in the final two minutes of the game, but it wasn’t quite enough to get them back in the game.
“You have to give those guys a lot of credit,” Conner said. “It’s cold out here and they got down. It would’ve been easy to just lay down and quit. But they fought us all the way to the end.”
The Bulldogs found themselves in an early hole, but the persistent Cecilia offense stuck with what it has done all season, leaning on its workhorse running back Raymond Calais.
After falling into a 18-0 hole, the Bulldogs handed the ball to Calais, who took a left sweep 35 yards. Two plays later, Calais ran in from 11 yards out to give Cecilia its first points of the game.
After forcing a Landry-Walker punt on the following drive, Cecilia handed the ball to Calais three consecutive times before the junior running back burst through the line and ran 55 yards for a touchdown. After Cecilia converted the two-point conversion, Landry-Walker’s lead shrunk to 18-15 at halftime.
Calais finished the game with 34 carries for 300 yards and three touchdowns.
“Tonight we fought until the very end, we just fell into holes during that first and third quarter,” Calais said. “I just have to give my offensive line and my wide receivers a lot of credit because they were opening holes up for me the entire game.”
After fumbling on the second play of their opening drive, the Charging Bucs utilized their big-play offense.
After forcing a punt on Cecilia’s first drive, Conner capped a five-play, 60-yard drive with a 33-yard touchdown run. Landry-Walker took its next drive 57 yards in three plays, assisted by quarterback Li’Jon Cordier’s passes of 35 yards to Mikhail Jacobs and 20 yards to Kaleb Anderson for a touchdown.
, giving the Charging Bucs an early 12-0 lead in the first quarter.
A fumble recovery by linebacker De’Vonte Bowie gave Landry-Walker the ball back one play into the second quarter. The Charging Bucs pounced on the mistake by the Bulldogs, taking the ensuing drive 86 yards on four plays, ending with a 47-yard touchdown pass from Cordier to reciever Carlius Joseph. After failing on the two-point conversion, Landry-Walker held a commanding 18-0 lead early in the second quarter.
“We came out with the mentality that we wanted to jump on them early and see how they would respond,” Conner said. “We did a good job, but they just kept bouncing back every time we thought we would put a run on them.”