Lamar too much for Lafayette County
By Nolan Epstein Special to PrepsKC
After producing a five-game winning streak that sparked a memorable run through the Class 2 playoffs, Lafayette County (12-2) saw its 2015 season come to an abrupt close on Saturday afternoon.
Thanks to another superb performance on both sides of the ball by four-time defending state champion Lamar (14-0), the Huskers were held to just 123 yards of total offense in a 45-0 defeat at the hands of the Tigers in their state semifinal tilt.
The win earns Lamar a berth in the state championship game in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis – a place that its profoundly familiar with – considering the program has not only participated in, but also won the title contest each of the last four years.
“Hats off to [Lamar],” Lafayette County head coach Steve Cook said after the semifinal loss.“They have a top of the line program. The rest of Class 2 has a lot of work to do to get where they are.”
While Cook's squad was having their share of challenges garnering offensive production, Lamar was having no such trouble.
Led by sophomore quarterback Stuart McKarus, the Tigers scored seemingly at will – reaching the endzone in six of its first seven possessions and essentially putting the game out of reach in the second quarter.
“We were just ready to come out today and play,” McKarus said.
Although the Tigers had their way with Lafayette County throughout the game, it was the Huskers who made the first noise offensively as quarterback Kinser Madison connected with senior Malcolm Elmore for a 48-yard pass play on their first play from scrimmage – putting the Huskers deep into Tiger territory just five minutes in.
But four consecutive unsuccessful attempts at getting another first down thwarted Lafayette County's threat and ultimately put momentum into Lamar's hands – momentum that it would never relinquish.
Lamar would take care of business doing what it does best – running the football. While throwing the ball a grand total of two times, McKarus tallied 127 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Tigers were also very unselfish in sharing their success as three other Lamar players scored touchdowns – including junior Matt Whyman, junior Luke Hardman and senior Danny Embree.
Hardman's score was perhaps the most impressive as he took a direct snap and weaved around defenders for a 67-yard TD run at the 11:13 mark of the second period.
The score extended Lamar's lead to 14-0 and further took the air out of Lafayette County's proverbial sails.
The Huskers' loss also marks the first time they've been shut out in a game since a 16-0 defeat to Richmond on September 24, 2010. For a team that came into the contest averaging just over 47 points per game, the though of not squeezing out a single point understandably seemed illogical.
At the end of the day, Lamar, who didn't allow the Huskers to creep any closer than the Tigers' 26 yard-line all day long, was up to the task – just like they've been since 2011.
For Cook and Lafayette County, there will be plenty of time to reflect on its mistakes from Saturday, but also to look back on a breakthrough season that provided a myriad of memorable moments.
“I'm really proud of our seniors,” said Cook. “To make it to the semifinals this year is quite an accomplishment.”
Lamar takes on Malden on Friday for the Class 2 title.
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