Excelsior Springs edges St. Joseph Lafayette

By Levi Smith News-Press Now
Posted: October 26, 2018 - 10:25 PM



In a battle of football philosophy, the flexbone attack of Excelsior Springs out-muscled the high-powered spread offense of the Lafayette Fighting Irish, coming back from a fourth-quarter Lafayette lead to eventually win 46-37 on Friday at Excelsior Springs High School.

Lafayette ended Excelsior’s season the past two years in the first round of districts by missed two-point plays from the Tigers.

This time, Excelsior took a 38-37 lead on a two-point conversion with 5 minutes left in the game that proved to be the difference.

The Irish (8-3) fought back from an early two-score deficit to tie the game at 30 at halftime. They proceeded to score immediately in the second half to take a 37-30 lead and seemed to have slowed the Tigers’ offense, but a failed 4th-and-1 conversion that could have set up Lafayette to go ahead 14 gave Excelsior Springs the momentum they needed to get its bruising ground game back on track for the go-ahead score.

After such a tumultuous contest, first-year Irish coach Eric McDowell saw a team that outdid all the expectations placed upon them.

“I’m proud of them, they played their hearts out. Back in June when we all came together as a team and a staff, this is not how most people would have envisioned this season going,” McDowell said. “I was so surprised by how this team grew up, we have a lot of underclassmen with some seniors sprinkled in there. In 15 years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team grow so much in so few months. We beat the odds.”

The Tigers (8-2) passed fewer than five times in the entire game and managed six touchdowns on the ground, four of which came in the first half. Lafayette’s Daeton McGaughy kept pace with five scores of his own, connecting on big plays through the air and using his legs to grind out tough yardage.

Ultimately, even McGaughy’s transcendent performance didn’t prove enough to overcome Excelsior.

McDowell said the Tigers’ running game made clear why Excelsior’s old-school option approach has stood the test of time.

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