NEW ORLEANS — Karr’s defense stood tall with it needed to most in Friday’s 28-16 Class 4A semifinals victory against Holy Cross at Behrman Stadium.
Now the Cougars are headed to the Superdome for the third consecutive year to play for the state championship.
Karr (13-0), which has lost in the final the past two years, will play Neville, which won 28-8 against McDonogh 35 on Friday in Monroe. The Cougars, seeded second in this year’s playoffs, lost last year to Neville, this year’s No. 1 seed.
“They’ll be tough opponents,” Karr coach Jabbar Juluke said of Neville, which also is 13-0. “We’re excited about playing in the Superdome again, and we want to play our best ball.”
Karr, which scored first on quarterback Devante Noil’s 5-yard run with 7:11 left in the first quarter, went into halftime with a 13-0 lead after a stunning turn of events.
First, the Cougars’ defense made a goal-line stand after Holy Cross quarterback Tucker Herzog completed a 21-yard pass to Wardell Robinson to the Karr 1.
However, Tigers running back Todd Spriggins was dropped for losses of 1 and 3 yards on consecutive plays. Quarterback James Tabary ran to the 3 on third down. However, on fourth down, he threw incomplete under pressure, turning the ball over to Karr with 2:40 left in the first half.
The Cougars then drove 97 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown. Noil, who rushed for 92 yards and passed for 150, gained 31 yards on first down to get it started. He scored on a 4-yard run with four seconds left in the half.
“That was the turning point of the game,” said Juluke. “Our defensive line stepped up once again, and for the offense to put together that drive was huge.”
Said Holy Cross coach Barry Wilson: “That took a lot of wind out of our sails, but we didn’t quit. But that was real big.”
Holy Cross (10-3), the District 10-4A champion, took advantage of an aborted Karr fake punt to get the ball at the Karr 38.
However, the Tigers had to settle for a 22-yard field by Nicholas Dale at 5:25 of the third quarter.
But Karr went 65 yards after the kickoff to push the lead to 21-3 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Jamison at 11:15 of the fourth quarter.
Noil passed to tight end Standish Dobard for the two-point conversion.
Holy Cross went 60 yards on 10 plays to try to give itself a chance, with Herzog running 4 yards for a touchdown with 8:17 left.
Karr answered with another drive, and capped by Noil’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Glenn Irons, sealing the victory. Irons had 12 catches for 113 yards.
Herzog threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Sean Finnegan with 50 seconds left. The two-point try failed. Herzog rushed for 63 yards on 11 carries and completed 10 of 15 passes for 109 yards and a touchdwon.