St. Joe Lafayette holds off Savannah

By Ross Martin The St. Joseph News-Press
Posted: October 31, 2013 - 11:49 PM



Just one extra point would have allowed Lafayette some level of comfort in the final two minutes.

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Three missed second-half kicks Thursday night against Savannah made the Fighting Irish defend until the final 7 seconds. Junior Preston Martin’s second interception in as many possessions finally sealed sixth-seeded Lafayette’s 33-25 win at Savage Field.

Martin took a knee in the end zone with 7 seconds left, leaving the Irish to complete just one kneel-down play to close out their second win against the Savages in coach Paul Woolard’s seven-year tenure.

“This celebration is awesome,” said Martin, a junior defensive back. “We haven’t had the best record, but we showed out.”

Despite all the tense moments, Lafayette (6-4) didn’t trail in the second half against the No. 3 seed but needed some clutch plays to make quarterback Drew Cortez’s career-best performance stand up.

Savannah (7-3) closed to within 27-25 on quarterback Dalton Duane’s 1-yard touchdown sneak with 6:06 left. The Irish responded with a deep drive but came up short on a fourth-and-inches sneak at the Savages’ 20, giving Savannah a chance to go ahead for the first time since the final minute of the second quarter.

Instead, Duane threw his second of three interceptions on the very next play, trying to hit running back Johnny Weeks deep between two safeties.

Martin snagged the hanging pass and returned it 50-plus yards to Savannah’s 4. Three plays later, Cortez rolled right to pass but cut back to scramble despite a gimpy right ankle that limited his play the past two weeks. He juked Savannah linebacker Lyle Powell in the backfield and then raced for the end zone, diving across the goal line just ahead of linebacker Hayden Holt’s tackle attempt.

“(The ankle) felt a lot better after I found out I got in the end zone,” said Cortez, who managed to run for a team-high 37 yards despite taking three sacks. “I just somehow got in the end zone. They blitzed all the backers, and I just found a seam on the backside.

“(The ankle) just held up for me tonight.”

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Not this Class 4 District 8 first-round matchup’s style.