SJ Lafayette outlasts SJ Benton

By Brandon Zenner The St. Joseph News-Press
Posted: September 2, 2016 - 10:49 PM

Similar skillsets put the Benton and Lafayette quarterbacks in the spotlight of a critical rivalry game Friday night.

When needed most, Cooper Burton’s playmakers were unable to push the Cardinals even with Diego Bernard’s Irish. With the help of a strong defensive showing — five turnovers in all — Bernard connected with senior receiver David Green for a pair of touchdown receptions to return bragging rights to Lafayette with a 40-34 victory.

Benton coach Matt Tabor knows exactly how much his team’s turnover woes played a part in the loss and 1-2 start to the season.

“My hat goes off to them,” Tabor said. “They were the better (Friday night).

“We killed ourselves. Five turnovers and two of them go for scores and we lose by one score — that’s the story of the game. We knew that coming in.”

Though originally slated for Scott Marriott Field at Alumni Stadium, the remains of Lafayette’s double-overtime battle with Central left the field unplayable. The teams opted to move the game to Missouri Western’s Spratt Stadium on Thursday, making for a picture-perfect setting for a heated in-city rivalry.

The aggressive nature of both defenses showed early.

It showed all game long.

After hauling in his second catch of Lafayette’s first drive, Braydan Cox was stripped by Benton’s Cooper Burton. Two plays later, Lafayette forced a fumble that would be recovered by Noah Fewins.

“Defensive side of the ball, the coaches did a great job with their game plan,” said Lafayette coach Bart Hardy. “(The assistant coaches) did a great job of coming up with what they wanted to do to contain him (Cooper Burton). You can try to contain him. He’s an athlete — all those kids are — so you do the best to try to hold him down. I thought we did a pretty good job.”

Four plays later, junior quarterback Diego Bernard took off and eluded a host of Cardinals en route to a 19-yard scamper and touchdown to lead with less than 7 minutes remaining in the first.

Facing a second-and-nine, Cooper Burton busted to his left and attempted a pitch to Derrien Parks. Instead, the ball found the turf and Lafayette’s Gavin Brown scooped it up, sprinting 40 yards for the score and 12-0 lead to end the first.

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